How To Carve A Canyon

How To -


How To Carve A Canyon

You see the pictures everywhere on the Internet. Leathers, lean angle and lots of throttle. Look good? This could be you too. Here’s how to carve a canyon.

Gear Up

Make no mistake, this is dangerous. Cars, cops, sand, gravel, animals and yes…fellow bikers all represent significant hazards. While you can still get hurt with it, head to toe gear will defray some of the extreme risk.

But what to wear? A one-piece race suit will give you the most safety and the most freedom of movement — something you need as you slide from one side of the bike to the other to hang off in corners. Continue that race theme elsewhere — race boots, race gloves, race helmet, race back protector and race chest protector. Not only is that the absolute safest stuff out there, but it’s designed to facilitate the sport of fast riding. You need a dedicated sport helmet because its horizon is higher than other types, enabling you to see forward when folded across the bike. You need race boots because they allow you to feel the pegs and levers and are designed to keep your feet intact even in the most extreme impacts.

Plus, you want to look good in photos, right?

Mulholland Drive

Photo by Mark Muller

Prepare Your Bike

Whether you’re planning to do this on an R6 or an FZ-09, you can’t leave your bike stock if you want to go fast. Start with the tires. Stock ones are garbage on both those examples, so put them on Craigslist and buy your self a set of Dunlop Q3s. Don’t be that guy that thinks he needs track tires, they’ll actually give you less grip and control most of the time on the road as you’ll struggle to heat them up, then to keep that heat in them. That’s not a slight on anyone’s riding, they’re just designed to work best in a different environment.

Next, you’ll need to alter your ergonomics. Consider any stock bike a starting point only and tailor it to fit you. New handlebars, new rearsets, StompGrip on the tank and a higher windscreen are usually enough (and likely the minimum you’ll need to do.) But, you can play with different seat materials and pads, different levers and all sorts of other things too.

And, did we mention how dangerous this is? Protect your investment by fitting your bike with significant crash protection. Check out an owner’s forum for your particular make and model and see which frame sliders, swingarm spindles and front axle sliders are reported to be the most effective. There’s some cheap stuff out there that just doesn’t do anything when you go down. You may also want to fit bar end sliders and flip-up levers or just hacksaw a groove in your stock levers so you’ll have something left if they touch down. Track bodywork also tends to be both tougher and cheaper than the stock items; the best works as sort of an all-over frame slider.

Continue Reading: How To Carve A Canyon >>

  • Justin McClintock

    Step 1: Re-route a river…..

    • Piglet2010

      Thank you Alceides.

  • Cody Blank

    Obligatory “take it to the track”

    Because learning how to ride the bike faster than a sign tells you is for a place where there are no signs.

    • Hummbug

      Yep +1. The most important part of this article: “Don’t try to keep up with guys that are faster than you, don’t push beyond your own limits.”
      I would add to that the need to comprehend the difference between fast on the road and fast on the track…they should be worlds apart.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        more moronic platitudes

        how would you know where your own limits are if you don’t push to exceed them?

        • Hummbug

          Don’t push your limits on the road, do it on the track. Or whatever works for you buddy, just stay away from me when you’re pushing your limits on public roads, speaking of morons.

          • Stuki

            Road limits and track limits are very different. One thing about road riding is, so many different opportunities present themselves on any given ride. Suddenly, you may find yourself on a road snaking through an open field where you have plenty of visibility; crank it up a bit and see how the bike responds. Then you’ll perhaps start feeling more comfortable handling the bike even at the slower speeds normally demanded on more common stretches of road.

            Remember that being able to lean hard, turn in fast, and have confidence in your bike and tires’ ability to stick, is a safety plus; so training to get to that level, while obviously increasing risk somewhat i the instant, also have the potential to decrease risk over the one’s riding career. It’s not like the safest motorcyclist is the one that has never, ever, turned hard enough to have smaller than 2 inch chicken strips, after all.

            • Hummbug

              True, I’m not arguing that riding fast on moutain roads is a bad thing so it’s probably just down to semantics. I’m just saying don’t PUSH your limits. I think everyone rides UP TO their limits, that’s where the fun is and the learning curve begins. If you want to push past them and see what happens, find a track.

              • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                you’ve yet to display a semantic variation that truly makes a difference relative to the original version

                how about “ignorance of your limits is bliss”

                • Hummbug

                  Haha troll much?
                  How about “agree to disagree” and you go and enjoy your life of exceeding limits whilst endangering others.

            • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

              “Remember that being able to lean hard, turn in fast, and have confidence
              in your bike and tires’ ability to stick, is a safety plus; so training
              to get to that level, while obviously increasing risk somewhat i the
              instant, also have the potential to decrease risk over the one’s riding

              You don’t need to work hard to “train” to establish confidence in these areas.
              Just ride like normal, and you will become very familiar with your bikes performance in normal riding.

              What you are saying is the equivalent of saying that you need to risk $100 in order to be able to win $5 bets consistently.

              The ratio in the real-world being much worse, thus the whole thing about protective-gear.

              • Stuki

                I’d have to say I agree with this, despite you seemingly trolling for a fight. Lost in much of internet debate, is that riding motorcycles should be about enjoying the ride itself, not about constantly “improving ones skill.” There is more to life than “getter better” at it; at lest for us non-inveterate-type-As. I just wanted to point out that one shouldn’t feel one have to remain forever relegated to the chicken strip brotherhood, simply on account of lack of funds/time/interest in track riding.

                • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                  …there’s more to it than even that…the basic problem is that riding fast on the track is completely different than riding fast on the road. You’ve pointed out some of the distinction but the even bigger problem is the simple question of how do you measure “fast”?

                  Isn’t it obvious that on a track,”fast” is measured relative to someone ELSES’s performance?
                  If you simply can’t ride that fast, what do you do?

                  On the track you have a constant reminder of what “fast” is. The other riders on the track, even their laptimes.

                  But on the street, “riding fast” is completely subjective. Unless of course you’re racing on the street.
                  This is why some people see you riding and say that you’re riding way too fast when you feel that you’re just cruising.
                  And they end up throwing speed-limits into the mix…apparently forgetting how speed-limts are set and why.
                  They are marks of the worst-case. The average decent motorcyclist on the average decent road in average weather can ride well over the speed-limit in total safety. Except for the unexpected. Which would be unsafe for anyone. But the Safety Nazis never admit that.

                  So on the street you have different definitions of “fast”, depending on who is doing the talking and who is doing the driving.
                  On the track, there’s just one definition. The laptime of the fastest guy. This is a completely different set of riding conditions, unless of course you want to get back to talking about “getting your knee down” or “doing 150mph on the straights” as the definitions of “fast”. Or talking about “chickenstrips” or whatever. Easy enough to look at a guys’ tires and see the wear on them and know whether he’s fast or slow, right? At least until you find out that the guy who is faster than you consistently has larger chickenstrips…

        • Davidabl2

          Perhaps a prime reason to “take it to the track?”

          • HardLookAtReality

            No. Riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, and just because you are trying to learn new skills is not a good reason to ride on a track.

            I have ridden a trackday once. I rode fairly conservatively and really did not push the bike at all. Because the fact that I was wearing leathers and riding on a racetrack did not make it a good idea to ride aggressively. The ride to and from the track, that was 350 miles each way through about as wide a variety of weather as you can name, short of snow. There were icy downhills on backroad two-lanes, torrential downpours, wet highways at night, wet city-riding at night…none of that was safe at all. Plus getting passed by or following riders tearing up a track isn’t all that safe either.

            • Davidabl2

              All the above is true,but if you’re going to really push the limits it pretty much has to be in a remote area or a racetrack and there are dangers specific to each environment. If I was gonna ride that track that’s 350 mi. from home I think I’d make an enjoyable 3 day trip out of it;-)

      • Jeremy

        If there were a track in my area, I’d do track days. The closest track I can get on is about 150 miles away, which means if something happens at the track, it’s not like I can just call a buddy to bring a truck for my bike. Or if I truck my bike up to the track, it makes it a MUCH higher expense, in just travel. Then track costs, maintenance, wear and tear, and all that assuming I don’t break stuff. What we do have, is an ABUNDANCE of sweeping, curved, uninhabited roads, that are pretty much open to ride all year.

        I don’t intend to go out and be stupid or get hurt. Attention is critical, whether you’re on the track, or the street. You don’t need to grossly exceed the speed limit, to gain an education on how to be a better, safer motorcyclist.

        • Justin McClintock

          I don’t think anybody is going to say you shouldn’t go enjoy yourself in the mountains or anything. I think they’re simply stating that if you’re trying to push for time or getting a knee down on every corner or anything along those lines while on public roads, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing and maybe consider taking it to the track instead.

          • Jeremy

            Oh yeah, there’s a level of proficiency you can’t really achieve without a track. Some of these guys are going on about how trying to push the abilities of what you’re confident to do, without a track though, is moronic. The difference being the level of proficiency you’re trying to achieve. I’m on an XL1200 with forward controls and 12″ tall bars anyway, I’m not exactly taking it to Isle of Mann.

            • HardLookAtReality

              “Oh yeah, there’s a level of proficiency you can’t really achieve without a track.”

              …of course there is, but also the fact that you are on a track doesn’t mean your skills are ever going to match your talent.
              And if you want to talk about “risky riding”, try riding to the very limit of your talent. That will be fatal regardless of where you ride.

              There just is no point in trying to develop your skills to such a level.
              You are far more likely to damage your bike and your body beyond the point of repair than you are to develop your skills to 99% of your talent. And even if you got to say 95% of your talent, where and when are you going to make use of that level of skill?

              You going to ride on a track all the time?

              Who is going to keep you in parts and pay your medical expenses?

              You do realize that the moment you take your bike on a track, your insurance is no longer relevant.

              Unless you have some kind of “racing insurance”.

              I know that neither my motorcycle insurance nor my health insurance covers a trackday.

              And so what if it did? Is that worth ruining my bike or breaking a limb or worse?

              • Jeremy

                My point is in response to,

                Obligatory “take it to the track”

                Because learning how to ride the bike faster than a sign tells you is for a place where there are no signs.

                If it were an option to practice there, I would. It’s really not, so I don’t. I’m also saying that you don’t need to go out and grossly exceed the posted limitations, to practice better skill handling. I’m not trying to drag a knee, I’m on an XL1200 with forward controls and 12″ baby apes. I’m the vast minority here (from what I can gather) of riders, who doesn’t own a sport bike. What I am trying to do, is build my confidence in myself in the ability to have greater control of my bike. Again, since I can’t do it in a controlled environment, I do what I can. Safety and keeping it rubber-side down, is always paramount. I’ve had this bike for a few years, I’ve made my mistakes on it. I’m glad I happened into this site, which is such a great resource for knowledge, and experienced riders.

                • HardLookAtReality

                  People who argue that you should go ride on a track, for any reason, are missing three points.

                  First, a track is rarely set aside for you to practice on it. Usually there are a lot of other riders whizzing around the track too.

                  Second, a track is not the street so you are, at best, practicing techniques that will work on a track but may not actually work well on the street which supposedly is the point of learning those techniques in the first place.

                  Third and most of all, you never want to wreck, whether it’s on the track or on the street.

                  So the argument that you are practicing on the track because it’s safer to wreck there is inane.
                  You don’t want to wreck and risk injury and damage to your bike in order to learn a “technique” which supposedly will make you a better and safer rider. That’s just plain stupid.

                • HardLookAtReality

                  “Because learning how to ride the bike faster than a sign tells you is for a place where there are no signs”

                  Maybe but you don’t follow a sign in life just because it’s a sign.

                  A classic case of not thinking all the way through an idea before acting on it.

          • HardLookAtReality

            no, because you are going to “push for time” on the street, and sticking you knee out while cornering is stupid regardless of whether you do it on the track or the street. This is equivalent to popping wheelies or doing stoppies…doesn’t matter where you do it, it’s risky and you still have a chance of wrecking and getting run over by other vehicles.

            People die on racetracks on a regular basis.

            • Justin McClintock

              Sticking your knee out at the track isn’t a bad idea. Not sure where you got that incredibly misguided idea. It not only helps you shift your weight inside giving you more ground clearance, but more importantly it helps you track where you are relative to the ground. If you know how to properly position your body on your bike, you can use that knee to know just how much lean you have left prior to touching down your peg and/or hard parts.

              You don’t actually even own a motorcycle, do you?

              • HardLookAtReality

                …wow, you seriously think that because I advocate NOT sticking your knee out while riding that I don’t even own a bike?

                • Justin McClintock

                  No, I think you don’t own a bike because you talk around points like somebody who doesn’t really understand the dynamics of a motorcycle in the least. And based on your previous comments, you’re either quite the troll despite having no knowledge of what you’re talking about or you have a very sophomoric understanding of anything two wheels and have decided that makes you an expert on the subject. Regardless, you’re doing a great job of proving you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Although it would seem James summed it up pretty well.

                • HardLookAtReality

                  “No, I think you don’t own a bike”

                  No, you GUESS that I don’t own a bike.
                  You’re of the OPINION that I don’t own a bike.
                  You may or may not BELIEVE that I don’t own a bike.
                  You may have logically DEDUCED from a rational(?) analysis of my postings, that I don’t own a bike.
                  It may SEEM to you that I don’t own a bike.
                  But you can’t “THINK” that I don’t own a bike.

                  It’s not up to you to decide whether I own a bike or not.

                  That is not your decision to make. Consciously, subconsciously or whatever.

            • james

              You are absolutely retarded

    • Stuki

      Unless your life consists of nothing more than riding up and down the Snake, practicing for your filmed and photographed runs, fast on track and fast on street require a somewhat different skill set. Lots of overlap, but going fast on the street for non-Groundhog-Day’ers, is more akin to arriving at a new, unknown track and riding the first lap for time, than normal track riding.

      As such, you can be a fairly quick street rider while still riding far enough away from your bikes ultimate mechanical traction limits to look timid on track.

      And, conversely, you can become a very fast track rider by simply taking baby steps to brake later, turn in faster, hang off and lean deeper, and get on the gas faster; one little step at a time; until you are a bit of a hero at your local track. But you may still be rather slow when faced with an unknown road, until you have ridden it 100 times.

      • HardLookAtReality

        …or you can be an idiot and ride on the street at or even near the same level of performance that you ride on a track.

    • MrMotoWise

      Mmmmmhmmmm. Two words – Fluffy Bunny. Did you follow all the signs?

  • Gonfern

    Step 1: Move to California.

    • Reid

      lololol you win. Everyone else can go home now.

    • Bruce Steever

      Or northern texas. Or Colorado. Or a whole chunk of the south and central eastern US.

  • Bad Kev

    BTW… Motorcycle Superstore has had a sale on Q3′s for a while now. I picked up a set for the S2R 1000 for $250 bucks & free shipping.

  • John

    “With a very large knife” – God

  • Flying Couch

    Step 1: Go Fast

  • Piglet2010

    I would be heading down to the earth-moving equipment dealer, not the motorcycle dealer if I wanted to carve a canyon.

    Where I go to ride, we call them “hols”, and not canyons.

  • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

    that guy looks like an idiot with his knee sticking out like that

    • Kevin

      And by “idiot,” you mean the author? Because I believe that’s him.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        if the shoe fits

    • Stuki

      A pretty competent idiot, at least; riding a shaft driven Guzzi like that…..

      I do think the whole “get a knee down at all cost” culture has gotten a bit out of hand. In some circles, it seems as if putting some darned puck on the ground has become the overriding purpose of riding a bike.

      For those less experienced and skilled than the author/kneedragger; it should also be noted that the vast, vast majority of the heroes you see in print, on the web and on youtube dragging knee; practice that one specific corner over and over, until they get the perfect take. Perhaps the author can set me straight, but I cannot imagine even he rides every single corner on a romp through Angeles Crest in that form. IOW, it’s not really something to be seriously emulated on a regular motorcycle ride; no matter how cool your buddies thing dragging knee may look.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        “A pretty competent idiot”

        sounds like a great idea for a t-shirt

    • Piglet2010

      “that guy” is Wes Siler.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I do miss canyon carving. Technique, torque, and lean angle are a priority (to me). Of course, tires are important, but so is dialing in the suspension. Anything that will take you off a set line has to be sorted out. Torque may seem to be an unusual aspect, but what I really mean to say is know where your best power band is. There’s a sweet spot on every motorcycle.

  • Mariofz1

    Need canyons : (

  • Kevin

    So look, I know that riding while hanging off/dragging a knee can actually be safer than no doing that at all, given the right speed for the right conditions/bike/rider skill set etc. etc. But if you’re going to push it, please push it in the left-handers (for those of us not in the Commonwealth). That way if something goes wrong you go onto the shoulder instead of into opposing traffic.

    • BlackSnake

      I’ve read this now a couple of times here at RideApart that hanging off could increase safety, but still believe that there is not truth in it. The reason is that while hanging off is effective in reducing lean angle at a given curve speed it can neither increase grip nor reduce the centrifugal force which tends to push you out of the curve and eats into your finite amount of grip your tires can handle. So unless you are really too fast for the corner so that you need that extra 5 degrees of lean before your foot pegs or any other part of your bike starts digging into the Tarmac there is no safety benefit. In most cases it’s a safety risk on public roads because you operate your bike pretty close to the friction limit of your tires or even exceed it and off you go. Or think of a sudden change in direction you need to make because an obstacle is appearing right in front of you or you need to lift your bike because an oil patch is appearing in front of you and you can’t make it around. It will be hardly possible for you if your center of gravity is hanging far off your bike. If you want to ride safe don’t push the limits you never know what to expect around the corner on public roads. If you are going to push the limits go to the track. That’s what it’s made for.

      • Justin McClintock

        Well, the point is that if you’re NOT hanging off, all things being equal, you ARE closer to dragging a peg or finding the edge of the tire (and once you find the edge, the contact patch starts shrinking). And if, in mid-corner, all of a sudden you need to tighten that line because a squirrel just ran out (or any of the number of other reasons), you still have more margin left in reserve to avoid getting to the edge of the tire or touching down hard parts. Fact of the matter is, any good set of tires, given good conditions and clean pavement, will have enough grip to get you through a corner at speeds (and lateral accelerations) well beyond what it would take to touch down hard parts (or ride right off the inside of the tire’s profile, given adequate ground clearance).

        Now mind you, if you’re not really “pushing” the bike at all, then there’s nothing to it. If your bike has a maximum lean angle of 55 degrees before hard parts touch down and you’re only leaning the bike in maybe 25-30 degrees in the corners normally, then you’ve already got so much margin that leaning off isn’t going to make a bit of difference.

        • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

          it *will* make more than a bit of difference because you are already leaning-off and thus riding the bike more safely,.

          • Justin McClintock

            That’s the whole point though….simply leaning off does not necessarily equal safety. I can hang off at low speeds and actually get the bike to lean OUT of the corner if I’m slow enough and I’m hanging off enough. The simple act of leaning off the bike means nothing. Doing it under appropriate conditions to improve your ability will. Doing it when you’re parking the bike in the corners is probably quite a bit more dangerous than not.

            The other thing to keep in mind is the level of confidence the rider has in leaning off. It completely changes the rider’s ergonomics, the way those inputs need to be given (from a feel standpoint anyway), and the way the bike will respond. If the rider isn’t comfortable leaning off, it’s a bad idea.

            • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

              ” The simple act of leaning off the bike means nothing.”

              No, it means SOMETHING. The question is exactly what does it mean.

            • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

              “The other thing to keep in mind is the level of confidence the rider has
              in leaning off. It completely changes the rider’s ergonomics….

              No, it does not “completely change” any of this.

              If the rider isn’t comfortable leaning off,
              it’s a bad idea.”

              No, it’s not a bad idea just because they aren’t comfortable doing it.

              When did you decide to run away at high speed from the concepts of logic and reason?

              • Justin McClintock

                Wow. Way to have no concept of viewing things from any vantage point but one very narrow one. If a rider isn’t comfortable hanging off the bike, they need to limit when and how they’re doing it if they want to learn to get better at it. That or simply don’t do it. And yes, it does change the ergonomics of how the rider interacts with the machine. Your arms are no longer at the same angles to the bars. Your shoulders are no longer at the same distances. If you put an input into the bars in the same manner as if you were sitting up, bad things will happen. I know that one from first hand experience when learning to hang off. But hey, you can’t be wrong. You said so yourself.

                • HardLookAtReality

                  viewing things from a wrong point of vieiw is not really my style, sorry

                • HardLookAtReality

                  ” If a rider isn’t comfortable hanging off the bike, they need to limit
                  when and how they’re doing it if they want to learn to get better at it.”

                  Completey wrong. You don’t learn how to get better at doing things that you aren’t comfortable doing, by not doing them.
                  Good technique is good technique and the only way to get better doing it is to do it.
                  Not using good technique because you don’t feel comfortable doing it is stupid.

                  Besides how uncomfortable is it to shift your butt a few inches off the seat (and keep your head and torso to the inside of the tank) when you turn?

                • Justin McClintock

                  There’s a huge difference between moving slightly to the inside of the seat and hanging off the bike. Remember what they said previously about proper cornering technique and body position? “Try kissing your mirror”. Trying to learn that on the road, particularly if your the hesitant type, is a bad idea.

                  You’re pretty good at trolling, but something tells me you probably aren’t so good at riding. Why don’t you come back when your parents finally let you get something with two wheels.

                • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                  You’re pretty good at spewing BS on the Internet.
                  Why don’t you come back when your parents finally teach you something about reason and logic.

                • Justin McClintock

                  Thanks for proving my point.

      • Kevin

        I thought that hanging off was all about increasing the contact patch of the tires by reducing the bike’s lean angle at a given speed. More contact patch = more margin for error = more safety. Or am I oversimplifying?

        That said, I never do more than slide a cheek off the seat if I’m going in a little hotter than usual. Have never dragged a knee on a public road and it’s not in my plan, not that I judge those who do. It’s just not my thing, that’s not why I’m out there. I have to remind myself that there are thrill seekers among us versus those of us who are into riding for reasons other than pushing the edge.

        • BlackSnake

          Well, luckily the grip (i.e. the frictional force between your tire and the road) is basically independent of the patch size. Otherwise it would be rather impossible to ride a motorcycle or a car. The patch size of a tire, especially that of a motorcycle, is extremely small and there are extreme forces acting on it if you ride through a curve at high speed or during hard breaking. The reason that this is possible is that the frictional force only depends on the force acting on the contact patch and not its size – thats simple physics. A larger patch means that the load acting on the tire is distributed over a larger area, which reduces the pressure (pressure = force/area) acting on each square inch of the tire in contact with the road. The result is that the increase in area is compensated by the reduced pressure with which the tire is pressed against the road. With modern tires it becomes a bit more complicated as they use different rubber compositions in the inner and outer parts of the tire which have slightly different frictional properties, but that’s a different story.
          So, unless you are riding on the rim of your tire you roughly have the same amount of grip available no matter what your lean angle or patch size.
          Getting back to lean angle an hanging off – what actually determines the lean angle? At a fixed curve speed we need to balance the centrifugal force, which is dependent of speed, radius and weight, by a component of the gravitational force acting on us and our bike. Both forces grab on us at our center of gravity. So its the position of the center of gravity (relative to the contact patch of the tire) which has to match to our curve speed and radius. By hanging off you move the center of gravity slightly more to the curve center, therefore reducing the effective lean. I once made a drawing for myself to illustrate this, which I attached. (green arrows are centrifugal and gravitational forces, red arrows are the respective components which need to balance so that you don’t fall to either side of your bike, blue arrow is the sum of the forces acting on the tire). I hope that helps a bit to understand what happens when you ride a curve and why you don’t fall off, at least if everything goes normal.
          So why do racers use hanging off? Because by reducing the effective lean of the bike (the actual lean through the center of gravity is always the same and only depends on speed and radius) you gain a few degrees of lean that you can use to ride a bit faster or on a tighter radius. Another reason is that experienced riders can use their knee as a kind of sensor to feel the actual lean of the bike.
          However, on most bikes you can reach lean angles far larger than what is sane on public roads. If you ride a curve at 40° lean and your bike allows for 55° you still have 15° left to tighten the radius when needed without the need to hang off. And I would consider 40° lean already as pretty extreme on public roads because on public roads you never know how much friction you actually can expect since even if you now the track by heart, friction may quickly change due to weather conditions, sand, dust, water or even oil on the road.

          • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

            “Well, luckily the grip (i.e. the frictional force between your tire and the road) is basically independent of the patch size”

            I don’t think that’s quite true, that question has come up at Cycle World recently…there are a lot of factors that come into play to determine friction other than the normal force.

          • Stuki

            A larger tire patch/wider tire, allows the manufacturer to use a softer, grippier compound. And, it also means a larger portion of the contact patch is away from the edges, where rubber deformation makes grip less predictable/lower. But that is really sorta academic for actual road riding on common sport tires.

            One reason to hang off once the speed increases on the road, is to deal with bumps; which are far more common on roads than on well maintained tracks. You may well have 15 degrees more lean available before dragging hard parts during steady state cornering, but hit a nasty dip midcorner, and you could well be in for a rude awakening.

            Aside from that, hanging off is not safer for most riders, as it does commit you to a corner to quite an extent. A sudden swerve in the other direction requires much more work than simply yanking the bar. For the predictable, repeated, learnable corners on a track, this can be practiced to perfection, but on a road with unknown corners coming at you; or even a familiar road (or even track) with sharp/short enough corners, it becomes a limitation.

            Which is a reason for Supermotos being so incredibly easy to go fast on, on unknown roads, as well as supertight cart tracks. (easy as in compared to similar speed on a “faster” sport bike, not as in easy to keep up with the fast guys in that sport.) You have so much lean angle available on the tall, narrow bikes, that you can just sit there like a bullrider and yank the bars back and forth, making hard split second direction changes without any forethought whatsoever, and without fear of anything touching down. At least until you are going fast enough to be literally sliding into corners sideways, at which point you start having to commit to a corner on those as well.

          • Piglet2010

            Your argument assumes the coefficient of friction between the tire and the road is constant, while it actually varies with both contact pressure and temperature, and of course the latter will be affected by inflation pressure.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        “The reason is that while hanging off is effective in reducing lean angle
        at a given curve speed it can neither increase grip nor reduce the
        centrifugal force which tends to push you out of the curve and eats into
        your finite amount of grip your tires can handle. So unless you are
        really too fast for the corner so that you need that extra 5 degrees of
        lean before your foot pegs or any other part of your bike starts digging
        into the Tarmac there is no safety benefit.”

        Not true at all.
        You’re already leaning off the bike, so whatever benefit there is from leaning off is immediately available.
        Not getting into that right now, but you were saying that there is no real-world benefit unless you immediately need the benefit from leaning off…

        Obviously there is the issue of preparedness, of reaction-time.

        ” It will be hardly possible for you if your center of gravity is hanging far off your bike”

        Nonsense, that’s like saying that you can’t change your line in a corner BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A CORNER.
        You shouldn’t talk about the strengths or weaknesses of an unfamiliar riding-technique.
        If you hang-off sensibly, then there’s no reason that you can’t change your line mid-corner.
        hang off like an idiot and there might be a problem

      • Piglet2010

        “…while hanging off is effective in reducing lean angle at a given curve speed it can neither increase grip….”

        No, suspension stiction increases with lean angle of the bike, decreasing traction.

        • Stuki


          So if I go ouside and lean my bike over, it’s suspension gets “stickier”?

          • Piglet2010

            Check your sag by the RaceTech method, and the difference between sags coming from suspension compressed and extended will depend on the amount of stiction in the suspension. This becomes worse when the bike is leaned over in a corner.

          • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

            you have to forgive him, he played tackle-football as a baby

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      actually you go onto the shoulder, hit something then bounce back across the lane, not to mention the vehicles behind you that take evasive action

      • Piglet2010

        Please try this to confirm you are correct.

        • HardLookAtReality

          seen it plenty of times on YT
          ignorinig the doubt in your words

          • Piglet2010

            You missed the point.

            • HardLookAtReality

              I am not about to go out and wreck on purpose just to confirm the obvious to you.

              Especially when there are plenty of examples of people who have already done this, on YT.

              I mean it would be obvious if you had at least half a brain.

              You go flying through a corner at 80mph and lowside.
              If you hit anything “rigid” on the outside of the road you and your bike will bounce back across the road at an appreciable fraction of 80mph (hint: the slower your rebound the more damage you will suffer). A two-lane street is perhaps 40 ft wide, you left the road at 100fps. How long do you think it will take your body and your bike to come to a stop in such a situation, given a relatively elastic collision? Remember that you are not going to shed any mass in a collison and your bike will shed only the soft-parts. Most of that 500lbs is going to bounce right back across the road.

              If you lose half of your velocity in the impact that means you’re bouncing off at 50fps.

              Even 1g deacelleration would mean it takes you almost 2 seconds to come to a stop.
              And you won’t deaccelerate at 1g, just sliding across the road.

              If you hit a guardrail at 80mph it first will make mincemeat out of you and then spit you back across the road into traffic.

              If you highside out of said corner it will be the same as launching you off the bike at 80mph down the middle of the road.

              Seriously stop looking at the positives in wrecking on a bike. There aren’t any.

              • Piglet2010

                “I am not about to go out and wreck on purpose just to confirm the obvious to you.”

                But that was the point.

                • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                  why don’t you go out and wreck your Ninja 250 and show us how safe it is

                • Piglet2010

                  Last time I crashed the Ninjette*, I did not even get a bruise or scratch. But I did have a funky shaped clutch lever the rest of the day.

                  * Turn 4 at Blackhawk Farms Raceway.

                • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                  keep practicing, you’ll get it right

  • Paolo

    That is one ugly crash picture…*shivers* and to think last February I could’ve been a goner…

  • 200 Fathoms

    I also found that “Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques” by Lee Parks is a good one.

  • Reid

    This kind of riding is way beyond my skill level and I’m not ashamed to say it; not only that, I don’t really “want” to ever do this on a public road – that is, unless I have absolutely nothing left to live for or I’m an old codger who wants to go out in a dignified manner. I think I may have just disqualified myself from this whole biker thing.

    Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have a somewhat funnier story to relate. I got burned pretty bad with a Christmas gift of some Sato Racing frame sliders. Turns out they aren’t so much “frame sliders” as they bolt straight into the engine case, and since I have intention of dropping my bike in a parking lot somewhere I don’t see them doing me much good to save the bike if I were to have a crash at the kinds of speeds and/or lean angles one needs for seriously fast riding around corners. Good thing I live in Florida, where corners simply do not exist.

  • Jack Meoph

    I’m still waiting for the “How to pose at *$’s” article.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    Go to the Sierras in the summer. Seriously. Or the Trinity Alps. Best roads in California and often empty.

  • Oddturkout

    2 piece leathers are good for number 2. It’s sucks to try take a dump in a 1 piece suit. SO consider that if you are going for a long ride. Poop happens.

  • Malandro

    That photo is hilarious.

  • Hummbug

    Mate, no one here is talking about speed limits! We’re talking about limits to skill and experience in handling a bike going around corners and at speed. I love a good argument but there just isn’t one here so I’m done.

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      …you’re right, there’s no argument that regardless of where you try to do it, pushing your limits on a motorcycle is dangerous.

  • Truthbot

    Who exactly is this article written for? Don’t kill yourself? Stay out of jail? Yeah thanks for the advice.

  • HardLookAtReality

    ” Ride within your limits and dont follow other rides unless you are
    familier with their riding pace and know you can ride their lines and

    …and how are you to know this?

    The thing about you and so many others glibly handing out advice is that you seem to be unable to see how vapid it is.

  • james


    I cant reply to you for some reason so i am replying to myself, but actually to you.

    You are an idiot i cant believe you posted all that crap.

    1. If you had read my comment properly than you would realise i was saying, dont follow people you dont know, do you know how many accidents i have witnessed because some idiot on a ninja 250 who just got their license tries to keep up with a fast group of riders who overtake them? it happens all the fucking time, yes, following another rider who you have arranged to have lead you through the corners is great. THATS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT SCENARIO to what i was warning against, which is blindly following riders you DONT know into bends that you dont know. Considering that most people on here are morons who dont know how to ride, its sound fucking advice to them. An experienced rider who volunteers to show a newbie through the corners would not just take off at top speed and get his knee down on every bend, he would slow down and ride at a pace the new rider was comfortable with.

    2. Riding within your limits does not mean you will never experience lock ups or slides you halfwit. You can be riding slow and hit some gravel around a blind bend and fishtail all over the place and recover, you can be riding within your pace and have a car pull out infront of you, making you need to brake extremely hard and lock the front and recover. Yes i understand the theoretical logic that if you stay within your limits you never improve, in reality people slowly push themselves and the limit increases, and it increases when they face dangerous situations and recover, like the ones i detailed above.

    3. As for your comment that wearing gear makes you go faster and take more risks, that is just a insane proposition. I vary my gear from full squid if i want to go down to the beach, jeans and jacket for commuting and a full motogp level race suit for canyon and track riding. Do i ride faster in the leathers? yes i do, is that because im wearing leathers? no its not, its because i am out on a ride with the specific intention of riding fast, thats the point. Could i ride just as hard in a jeans and jacket? yes i could easily, do i? no, but not because the gear is less good, but because if im wearing my jeans and jacket im commuting or touring, both situations where excessive speed can get you killed a lot faster, due to the many more hazards (or in touring case, going down can strand you in the middle of nowhere)

    Seriously mate, i have over 100,000 kilometers of knee down riding with no accidents ever. So maybe take my advice, as it has kept me safe for over three years and i follow all of what i wrote to the letter basically.

    • james

      Wow did hardlookatreality delete his ridiculously stupid comment? To all those people saying ‘ you cant improve if you ride within your limits’ you are forgetting all of the hazards that riding with in your limits presents you, gravel, wet roads, oil, animals, reacting to these events while canyon carving will push your limit better than you just going stupid fast into corners will, because these situations are unexpected and are true confidence builders, and all of these things happen within your speed and grip personal limits, with out pushing them, over time you will experience many things on the road and that is how you improve, by surviving these situations.

      Dont forget im not saying dont ride fast, im just saying build up slowly riding at 70% of your limit and let gravel and animals teach you about dealing with fishtails and front end lock ups, dont learn about a front lock up because you got cocky and charged a turn then freaked out and braked. My personal limit is very high, theres nothing wrong with that, i always ride within my limit and so far im always safe.

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      “You are an idiot i cant believe you posted all that crap.”

      Your problem is that you write for 30 minutes and THEN begin to actually think about what you’re writing about.

      If you’d think first and then write while, you know, continuing to think, then you might be more successful online.

      “Seriously mate, i have over 100,000 kilometers of knee down riding with no accidents ever.”

      I guess that it’s not that hard, then, to engage in “knee-down riding”.

      But did you have all this knowledge when you started?


      So is it that at the beginning you were just lucky, or were you just lucky all along?
      Or maybe it’s just not that hard to not wreck if you’re afraid enough of wrecking and have enough sense?

      Or maybe you haven’t actually been dragging your knee for 100,000km with no accidents ever?

      Gee if that’s the case, what else have you said here that’s total BS?


    Can a bike with Engine guard crash bar crave a canyon?

  • karlInSanDiego

    I’m not sure Nick would approve of using his book to train yourself how to be faster in the canyons. Given that this essay of his is held high by mature bikers as being the lesson you’ll understand when you’re older and wiser: You know it as The Pace