How To Get Your Elbow Down

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How To Get Your Elbow Down

Dragging elbow serves no real purpose in racing. It doesn’t help you go faster, it ruins your suit and you don’t get extra style points for pulling it off throughout a race. With that being said, don’t act like you don’t want to be able to do it! Here’s how to get your elbow down.

Tire technology today is allowing racers to achieve insane lean angles of up to 64 degrees on the race track. The young crop of racers coming up the ranks in this new tire tech era are riding bikes differently than their older peers like famed racing legend Valentino Rossi. These kids are carrying more corner speed, which in turn calls for more lean angle. Pol Espargaro’s data during post season winter testing already showed him leaning his satellite M1 over more than Jorge Lorenzo on his factory M1. The game has changed. Here’s how you play it now.

Step 1: Gear up.

One-piece suit, back protector, racing gloves/boots and a good helmet are needed for this exercise. Stay away from two-piece suits because they don’t have the lower back stretch panel. I’ve found that when I get into a full tuck position while wearing a two-piece, the lack of give from the waist area turns the collar into a choker.

Step 2: Get yourself a modern sportbike.

A fully faired bike is more equipped for this task over a supermoto or naked. Preferably one with an aftermarket suspension front and rear so that you can adjust the sag, and damping to your weight. It should also have adjustable clipons and rear sets in order for you to find the best riding position on the bike.  Mount some DOT race rubber by the brand you have the most experience with. DOT race rubber will provide more than enough grip to drag your shoulder. Slicks aren’t necessary here, they provide so much grip it almost takes the fun out of it. Plus, they’re ridiculously expensive.

How To Get Your Elbow Down
Attempting to perform this on the street can and will be detrimental to your health and well being. Do not follow me.

Step 3: Practice on the track.

Attempting to perform this on the street can and will be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Just check out Rnickeymouse’s YouTube channel for ample evidence of that.

Instead, do the sensible thing and try your luck in a safer environment like your local race track. By no means will it be as glorious an accomplishment. But, there are dedicated corner workers there that warn you of any changing conditions happening on the track that may distract you from achieving this sensational milestone. An ambulance is parked on site to quickly provide a no-wait-time rescue. There’s also a tow truck handy to bring your broken bike back to the pit. Choose your playground wisely…

How To Get Your Elbow Down
It is not wise to adjust your speed by slowing down just to get your elbow down. It should come as a bi-product of good corner speed and proper BP.

Step 4: Figure out knee-down first.

It’s a known fact that proper body position (BP) + correct corner speed + correct racing line = knee down. This same old adage to dragging knee works for getting your elbow down, with the exception of how your upper body is arranged on the bike. By now you should know what it takes to drag your knee. If not, go recap our article How To Get Your Knee Down.

How To Get Your Elbow Down
You must ignore your instincts and position your head low and off to the side of the gas tank while cornering. It’ll take some getting used to because your line of sight is now almost level with the ground.

Step 5: Readjust your riding style.

Most new riders and some old have a habit of not putting their head/shoulders where it should be when cornering. Fear and self-preservation are to blame. Without thinking, you put your head where it feels safe, which means away from the inside of the corner. You must ignore all your instincts and position your head low and off to the side of the gas tank while cornering. It will take some getting used to because your line of sight is now almost level with the ground. I suggest you decrease your normal riding pace by half and get used to cornering this way. You also want to pay attention to the distance your chest is to the tank when cornering. Ideally you want your upper body to be off to the side and draped over the bike, with your chest low, on the same plane as the top of the tank. At this point you’re relaxed and using your lower body to keep you from putting a death grip on the clip-ons. It’s really that simple. Practice makes perfect, before you know it you’ll be skimming your elbow on corners you never thought were possible to do so on.

How To Get Your Elbow Down
Ideally you want your upper body to be off the side and draped over the bike.

Before you call in your camera crew, keep this in mind… You decide where to practice. There will be a couple of heroes who can pull it off on the street. But most will always end up like this:

 

Advanced riding techniques are best practiced on the track.

So tell us, can you do knee down and elbow down? What’s your experience been like so far?

  • 200 Fathoms

    I look forward to trying this out on my Bonneville in the spring.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I’d definitely fit the spoked wheels and tubed cross plys first.

      • 200 Fathoms

        Yes, and one must ensure that the stellar factory suspension components are in tip-top shape as well.

      • Piglet2010

        So I made a mistake getting the base version instead of the T100? ;)

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Absolutely. The enhanced gyroscopic force of adding 20lbs of unsprung weight make the T100 and Thruxton sooooo much more stable at elbow dragging lean angles.

    • Ayabe

      Adding a novelty helmet will help you lean over more as well, it’s science.

  • Gonfern

    I Lost the front into turn 1 at NJMP Thunderbolt. I dragged my elbow so good!!! ….and mi knee, and my ass, and my head….no thanks. I’m OK with just a little knee puck action.

  • akrokdesign
    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Gotta love Dorna. NO MOTOGP FOR YOU!

      • WheelieGood13

        Yeah, why would they want views?

  • Justin McClintock

    I guess I just need to get my DT175 to the track…

  • Tupack Shackur

    Wes, it’s de rigeur in the comments on rnickeymouse crash videos to break down why the rider crashes; based on your article, and assuming he has the proper tires, is it because he’s not low, and his head not level with the tank?

    Also, congrats on that wild pig you shot. Just saw that on that car site that starts with J. Very cool.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Cold tires, abrupt control input.

  • Jack Meoph

    All the cool kids are doing it.

  • Donnie Byers

    Absolutely stoopidest bike fad in recent memory. I see guys in rnickeymouse’s youtube videos trying to pull this off on the streets. Some pull it off, but alot don’t and end up Internet-famous. Stoopid is, as stoopid does.

    • Blu E Milew

      More than sticking your leg out when braking?

  • Rameses the 2nd

    But can you drag your helmet?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T645xjxMxTc

    • CB

      As someone who has never even dropped a knee, that just blew my mind. As his would have had there been a bump in the road.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    I can’t wait until my son comes home from the track in ten years and tells me he got his lat down on the track – BOOM!

  • SkunkySamurai

    Cant wait for summer so I can get out on my new R6 and start learning how to ride better!