A fairly uncommon dead-center, front-on photo of Casey Stoner in a low-speed corner at Indy gives us a chance to revisit current track riding practices. The form being demonstrated here is the ideal way to wring the most performance out of modern suspension, chassis and tires, removing as much lean as possible for a given corner speed while allowing the rider to continue to make control inputs and respond to changing conditions or slides. This is what you should try and look like when you go for a ride this Labor Day weekend.
Photo: Christian Pondella
Note Stoner’s points of contact with the bike. He’s exactly one butt cheek off the seat with the inside of his outside knee hooked into the crevice where the tank and seat meet. This supports some of his weight. His inside toe is positioned on the tip of the peg with his heel out and away from the swingarm, taking the rest of the weight. His outside arm is stretched nearly horizontal across the tank, nearly lying flat across it.
Next examine Stoner’s body away from the bike. His chest is open and pointed into the corner with his inside shoulder as low and far forward as possible. His knee isn’t pointed straight down, limiting lean angle, but rather forward, hinging in and out as lean angles allow. His head is as far from the bike as possible and his neck is stretched out as he’s looking through the corner to the exit.
In this position, nearly the entirety of Stoner’s body weight is positioned inside the angle formed by drawing imaginary lines; one up through the center of the front wheel and another on a horizontal plane across the ground. This maximizes his ability to keep the motorcycle as upright as possible for a given corner speed or corner faster in more safety; a tire has more grip the more upright it is.
With his weight off his hands and arms and on his inside foot and outside knee, Stoner is free to make minute, uncorrupted steering inputs or respond more abruptly, say to a slide, by weighting the pegs and changing his body position. Riding like this, he can change direction, into the next corner, quickly and easily.
This photo appears to be pre-apex. As he reaches that apex and begins to wind on the throttle, Stoner will begin to move his upper body even further off to the side, pushing the bike up as much as possible to maximize the size of the tires’ contact patches as he winds on the throttle. When he moves his body back on top of the bike to tuck for the straight or swap sides for the next corner, he’ll take his body weight through his legs on his toes, barely contacting the seat with his ass as he slides across it.
What you see here isn’t just a professional athlete at the peak of his skill, but also a guide on how to get the most out of your motorcycle. Study his form and apply it to your own riding and you’ll be both faster and safer.