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.
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...
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.
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.
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?