More thought is given to
choosing motorcycle boots (not that you shouldn’t apply a lot of thought to protective
clothing..) than most riders give to using their lower limbs while riding. I
wonder how many of those riders also give thought to using body weight on the
pegs to make the motorcycle respond to those inputs.
Think about the fact that
when you lift your backside off the seat, your weight is transferred lower on
the bike, down to the pegs. Now lean to one side or the other, like a
skier, and you can help the bike lean, or you can make it that much more
difficult. Sit back down, and the effective centre of gravity feels
Where you place your feet
determines what they can do, and how quickly.
On a cruiser, if your feet are
flat on the floorboards, you create a delay if you need to get back to the
brake or the gear-lever. On other types of bike, are your feet ready to
shift or brake, or do you need to move them first to a position where they can
function? 85-90 % of riders I see would have to move their feet to get them in
an operating position..
Ideally, your bike should
be set up so that your feet are where they need to be to function, quickly and
efficiently. This not only means where they need to be to shift and brake, but
in a perfect world, you should be able to weigh them by merely standing up. If
your weight is centred so that you can easily stand on the pegs without
shifting your weight, you would be in a great position to control the
motorcycle. In practice, this can’t happen on a sportsbike where your
feet are behind you, or on a cruiser, where your feet are in front of you.
Watch a trials rider or any off-road rider sometime. They are
routinely balanced on their feet, and they spend most of the time standing on
the pegs. This affords great control.
There are limits to what
you can do to correct inherent balance issues on your bike but that doesn’t
mean you can’t practice different positioning until you find what works for
you. Be prepared to get out some tools and adjust what you can. Riders
who ride toes down are not only positioned poorly to control the motorcycle,
but there are instances where such riders actually catch their toes and receive
injuries, or even crash.
Being positioned to use the
back brake is important for low speed riding, and in panic braking, where you
want to balance the brakes without locking up. I personally ride with my feet
hovering over the rear brake and my other foot over the gear-lever, ready to
Being a good rider means
paying attention to a lot of things. A little thought and incorporating
your foot position and peg weighting into your practice will make it easier to
incorporate these things instinctively and naturally. At a minimum,
notice where your feet are when riding, and what you have to do to get them in
position to work controls or weight one or both pegs.