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struggling with your u-turns?


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Try this


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I like this guys presenting and his videos have a lot of good info I think. I can't say I've mastered this in anyway, certainly I think moving your body to the outside of the turn and looking through helps. Some of the info is about turning off road but I think with roads covered in wet leaves at this time of year it has some relevance on road as well.

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Saw two guys demoing this on BMW adventure bikes at Motorcycle Live yesterday and as you would expect make it look ridiculously easy


edit: the thing I don't think I'll be able to do with this specific technique is pulling the clutch in - the one time I did that when I panicked whilst doing my mod1 training the bike went to the ground awfully quickly...

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Saw two guys demoing this on BMW adventure bikes at Motorcycle Live yesterday and as you would expect make it look ridiculously easy


edit: the thing I don't think I'll be able to do with this specific technique is pulling the clutch in - the one time I did that when I panicked whilst doing my mod1 training the bike went to the ground awfully quickly...

 

that's the bit I don't like, cutting the power, speed scrubs off and it wants to go down if you don't time the power back on

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Good video tho I couldn't cope with more than few seconds worth of the awful 60s lift music ;)


The technique being demonstrated is called 'counter-weighting' because you move your body weight one way whilst leaning the bike the other. As the vid demonstrates, the more you lean the bike over, the tighter it turns.


The big plus is that it means you can keep up a decent speed - which is what gives the bike balance - and still get it turned in a tight space. The mistake that most riders make is to try to go slower to turn tighter. Eventually the machine no longer has any dynamic balance and starts to wander all over the place - turns get wider rather than tighter, so the answer is not to go too slow.


I noticed a couple of comments about 'cutting the drive' on the clutch. Don't do that - keep the power steady right through the turn from beginning to end and use the REAR BRAKE to fine-tune speed. One thing that the off-road U turn on test no longer teaches people is how to deal with a steep camber on a road - you have to drive UP the hill, then use the rear brake to control the speed going DOWN again once you have crossed the centre line.


You'll notice that he's also turning his shoulders into the turn. This does a couple of other things. First - it helps you look where you want to go because even if you look 'straight', if your shoulders have shifted into the turn so has your head :) Second, it gives you a much straighter arm to the controls, which makes them easier to use. If you sit straight on the bike, you'll find one hand or other is tucked up in your gut... if you are turning tight to the left, like in the video, it'll be your clutch hand, and if you are turning right then it's the throttle. Meanwhile the reach out to the opposite control gets longer. Shift your body and you'll find the reach to the respective controls becomes a LOT easier and a much more natural angle.

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The technique being demonstrated is called 'counter-weighting' because you move your body weight one way whilst leaning the bike the other. As the vid demonstrates, the more you lean the bike over, the tighter it turns.

 

One thing that helped my confidence with this was actually recording myself sat on the bike with it on the side stand and moving just my right buttock off the bike. It's amazing how just doing this (not 'driving weight' etc through the peg, just the act of moving your cheek off the side of the seat) makes the bike stand up. For me at least it showed me how even though I'm practically a third of the weight of the bike my body position really would help counterweight it :)

 

One thing that the off-road U turn on test no longer teaches people is how to deal with a steep camber on a road - you have to drive UP the hill, then use the rear brake to control the speed going DOWN again once you have crossed the centre line.

 

Very true. The junction to our road is on a tight blind bend, where you can only see a car for about a second before it's on top of you. I never felt safe pulling straight into it on the bike (you don't have to worry about balance in a car!) so instead usually go up the road to a small roundabout with the aim of doing what is effectively a u-turn to double back on myself.


First few times I did this after passing I really struggled until I realised it's downhill on entry, uphill on exit. So I needed to control speed on the way in, then let off the rear brake and ease out the clutch on the way out. The opposite of this but same principle of having to adjust what you're doing part way through.

 

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I was attempting the "mod 1" style of u-turn where you pretty much set your speed and hand/feet positions and leave it as you bring the bike around.


Edit: I now sometimes taken even shorter a route by doing a tight 90 degree right turn into one of the old roads that lead to the miners cottages

 

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...which then has another tight turn (yes that is a house extension on the right!)

 

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Both of which require getting the tyre leaned to make it comfortably. Funnily enough I find this tight manoeuvre easier than mucking around going around cones on my mod 1 :P

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Looks like some fun riding around there :)


Taking a slightly simpler route isn't a bad idea - I used to avoid one particular right turn, not because it was particularly awkward but because it meant slowing on a fast bend where drivers behind couldn't see the junction and failed to react to brake light / indicator... after a couple of slightly scary moments I rode a few hundred yards up the road and took the next right.

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I've been practicing Us and 8s a lot lately. On a 125 you have the additional problem of a high revving engine that dies as soon as you release the clutch. I developed a "pulsing" technique with the clutch. It keeps the hand fluid with really small/ gentle movements.

With a constant clutch setting it starts to grab a little more as up pick up speed, the bike accelerates more etc. If you are pulsing, you are already pulling the clutch back as it bites, so you don't get into a vicious cycle. No jerkiness. The frequency is the same - about 3-4 times a second, but the amount of time at the bite point varies. Its difficult to explain. In electronics its called "pulse width modulation".


Anyway I spent 2 hours at it and transferred to a 650cc. My tyre tracks on a 5 x figure 8 were within 50cm, and I passed my Mod1 with it today so ....

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I've been practicing Us and 8s a lot lately. On a 125 you have the additional problem of a high revving engine that dies as soon as you release the clutch. I developed a "pulsing" technique with the clutch. It keeps the hand fluid with really small/ gentle movements.

With a constant clutch setting it starts to grab a little more as up pick up speed, the bike accelerates more etc. If you are pulsing, you are already pulling the clutch back as it bites, so you don't get into a vicious cycle. No jerkiness. The frequency is the same - about 3-4 times a second, but the amount of time at the bite point varies. Its difficult to explain. In electronics its called "pulse width modulation".


Anyway I spent 2 hours at it and transferred to a 650cc. My tyre tracks on a 5 x figure 8 were within 50cm, and I passed my Mod1 with it today so ....

 

Slow speed control is a bit counter intuitive.

Set the engine speed a bit higher than ticket, hold the rear brake on, and use the clutch to control your speed.

No need to pulse the clutch, just keep the revs up and slip the clutch. You won't let the clutch fully out.

With your rear brake on the bike won't lunge forward, and as you pull in the clutch it will slow rapidly so you won't get the bike rolling away. Keep revs constant and rear brake on... Its all about the clutch!

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