Advanced Riding Techniques Blog

Advanced Riding Techniques in Cape Town, South Africa | Learn to ride a motorbike with advanced driving skills.

Motorcycle Electronics

Nearly all larger modern motorcycles are moving in the direction of electronic intervention in the riding experience..ABS Braking, Traction Control, Wheelie Control, and there are more coming

For many of us, we still use analogue controls: my right throttle hand and fingers control MY traction levels and ABS, because I'm riding an older machine and until I graduate ( financially ) I'll just have to ride that way...but I am interested in what these electronic aids do and how they have been forged in racing and filtering down to us mere mortals.

Part 1 of this article is what Bradley Smith ( Yamaha Moto GP Satellite Team Rider ) has to say about the various aids and how they are used in the cut and thrust that is at the top level of Motorcycle Racing.. 

These Sounds are AMAZING....

Most, if not all, motorcyclists love the sound of thoroughbred machinery ..either as it rides past..or just sitting idling..

These Moto GP machines are being prepped prior to being ridden...

I could listen all day..though they do sound like a jangling bucket of bolts sometimes...

Is Bigger Better?

How many times have you seen someone admiring the rear tyre of a motorcycle? Especially when it is super-wide. There is, unfortunately, a difference between cool and functional.

Motorcycles are assisted in a turn by tyre shape: as the bike leans off the centre of the tyres, the circumference becomes smaller. This is demonstrated easily by taking a styro-foam cup, putting it on its side on a table and pushing it. It goes in a circle, because the bottom has a smaller circumference than the top.  Motorcycle tyres work on the same principle, unless you are still riding that classic motorcycle which has original tyres that are virtually square in profile. That's how it was back in the day...

A smaller section tyre (the big number at the start of all modern tyre sizes) will allow the bike to roll into the turn faster, because it takes less effort to get it from the big circumference in the centre onto the smaller circumference on the side. Simple as that!

So, ignoring for a moment the effect of aspect ratio (the height of the sidewall vs the width of the tread and the second number shown on modern tyre sizes.) on overall handling feel, buying a bigger tyre to replace the standard ..e.g. 200/60..over 180/60 WILL change the ability of the tyre to move “quickly” in cornering situations and be particularly noticeable when trying to change directions through an “S” bend. Also, a larger tyre with the same aspect ratio will have a greater circumference , which will dull acceleration, but will eventually lead to a higher top speed..if you can ever get there with Cameras and Traffic Officers waiting for you.

So now factor in the potential choice of aspect ratios; say 180/55 vs 180/60 and again the overall circumference changes affecting top speed, acceleration ( via an effective gearing change ) as well as handling

Is a big tyre faster in a straight line or does it offer better grip when leant over??  Nope, wrong again. The amount of traction you have is a product of  a bike’s geometry, weight and the co-efficient of friction.  In other words, the angles at which the tyres interface with the road, the stickiness of the tyre, and the weight of the bike. If you have a bigger contact patch, the weight is spread over a larger area, but the amount of traction does not change. Motorcycle & Tyre manufacturers spend large R&D sums on working out what size tyre will optimise the handling and transferring acceleration and braking forces at maximum efficiency.

Unless you are drastically changing the power output of your machine, or adept at understanding the affects that size and aspect ratio changes have on handling feel, it is best to stay with recommended tyre sizes...

Oh, but wide tyres definitely look cool.  No doubt about that…just gawp at any over-tyred cruiser or superbike and see the owner’s chest swell with pride..just don’t ask them how it feels now through the twisties..

As always, stay upright and in control ..


You put your left leg in.....Riding Position and where you put your feet!

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 higher.

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 gear down.

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.

A little accident..

Shows how easily it can happen, even if the bike was partially unsighted by the car. It highlights the value of NOT being close to vehicles larger than a motorbike. If you can't see past them, others can't see you. For other real life tips and techniques contact Mark at A-R-T

Unlucky ..or decide..

I've not posted the comments the lady refers to in the video...and her screen-name is a little unfortunate..However, this was obvious from the moment I saw the line of traffic on the left..either that, or a driver in the left lane changing to right..

Defensive a way to save your life and wallet..It doesn't change the enjoyment (.. or shouldn't!!) and I'm glad she was "ok", but apply a couple of Advanced Riding Techniques could have saved her some pain and her 15 minutes of internet fame..

Keep looking... and keep it upright...

When a Cyclist has better Road Skills than a Motorcyclist..

The lack of road skills prevalent here is astonishing..This is Mr. Accident looking for a place to have one.

The cyclist is a pain in his neck, but he's showing him the right way to ride this portion of the road, until they both go wide: I'll let you decide who followed/led whom. I'd offer to train the guy, but it's probably too late..Be sure you don't do the same; contact me at Advanced Riding Techniques