Look to any MotoGP racer to see harmony in action. Racers use pressure on the bars and peg
The first thing I notice about any rider is form—what does he or she look like on the bike? How does he sit? What’s her posture? Is it comfortable or awkward, stiff or loose, MotoGP or nervous novice?
Good body positioning isn’t only about style, but function. It must provide the rider harmony with and control over the bike with the minimum possible effort. A shift lever set a quarter-inch too high or too low, for example, can force a rider into awkward readjustments of his entire body.
Even with perfect control settings, good sport-cornering form has its difficulties. Achieving it may look and even feel like it’s reserved for the young and flexible. This may be true to a degree, but many of the problems are actually brought on by our Survival Reactions (SRs). For example, a rider who is improperly trying to level the horizon simply by tilting his head can create stiff and twisted positioning on the bike.
Aside from any SRs, good form is difficult for riders who are still struggling with their basics because it does not address or improve 90 percent of the most fundamental and vital aspects of riding: a sense of traction, speed, lean angle, braking and line.
Any uncertainty about these basics has a physical manifestation—they transfer to the rider’s body positioning in awkward ways. Good coaching can get to the root cause of them, and it’s necessary because what the rider is doing feels right.
Upon seeing photos of themselves, riders often express disappointment: “I certainly felt leaned over a lot further ... Are my knees that far from the deck? … I was right down on the tank, nearly under the paint.” At least it felt that way to them!
Until we solve it, SRs connected with leaning over kick in and begin to distort our senses once we begin tilting the world.
Good cornering form is not an end unto itself, but gives us another guideline. Good form helps good riding to become more fluid and efficient.
While body position isn’t the panacea some think it is, it has its place. For example, holding the body upright, counter to the bike’s lean while cornering, has several negative results such as positioning the rider so he can’t relax.
Which brings us to our primary rule of body positioning: Stability comes in pairs. Code’s First Law of Body Position states that bike and rider stability are always paired—rider instability transfers directly to the bike.
Body positioning has but one critical and basic function: rider stability. How a rider connects to the bike can bring about harmony, control and ease of movement or turn the ride into an uncoordinated wrestling match.
Having stability and freedom of movement sounds conflicting. When something is stable it’s expected to stay put—unmoving, like the foundation of your house or the roots of a tree. But the opposite is true while riding: Once a rider’s individual problems are dissected and properly coached, stability brings about harmony with the bike, freedom of movement on it, and precision control of it—with minimum effort.
MotoGP techniques are often shown to newish riders, and that’s fine for setting the stage on body position. But without a sub-jective understanding of why, how and what the pros went through to get there, it easily becomes disappointing for the student looking at his photos. I can’t fault anyone for wanting a trophy photo with their knee down!