Motorbike life

The riding position on a motorcycle

8 minutes

How should you sit on your motorcycle? How should your arms be positioned? What position should your back be in? How should you position your feet? Many factors are involved in safely riding and controlling a motorcycle.

The riding position on a motorcycle

Proper control of a motorcycle depends to a large extent on the riding position taken. An incorrect riding posture can also cause the rider to become more fatigued than desired and can also result in muscle overload and even injury.

Before setting off, the first thing to check on a motorcycle is that the controls and rearview mirrors are placed correctly. To avoid excessive fatigue in the rider’s hands, which may even fall asleep, the ends of the handlebar levers should be positioned on the same line as the rider’s forearms once their hands are gripping the handlebar grips with wrists straight.

The correct placement of these levers will also depend on the type of motorcycle. On a touring bike, they should be placed higher than on a sport bike. If it is a trail bike, it should also be taken into account if it is going to be used off-road for a long time and, therefore, if it is going to be ridden standing up. In this case they will have to be set lower than would be normal for on-road use. In any case, repositioning the levers is a simple operation in which you do not need to spend more than a couple of minutes. So it isn’t excessive for every motorcycle user to know how to do it and so they can do it when the moment requires it.

For the rearview mirrors, it is important that each of their arms be placed perpendicular to the direction of travel. If they are more closed or more open, the field of vision may be reduced by being obstructed by the driver’s shoulders and/or arms.

Equally important is for the shift and rear brake levers to be at the correct height. If the gearshift lever is set higher or lower than what may be considered correct, it will make shifting much more difficult and cause the driver’s left leg to tire unnecessarily by having to move it more than necessary when shifting up and down gears. The same applies to the brake lever. In addition, not having the controls or rear-view mirrors correctly positioned could cause errors while driving and, therefore, affect safety.

Once the controls are properly positioned, when setting off, the rider must centered on the motorcycle, i.e. their weight must be properly distributed between the right and left sides. It is also important for the upper and lower limbs to be placed in a symmetrical position between them. While turning the throttle or using the gear shift can cause differences at times, you should always try to maintain balance between the arms and legs on one side and the other. The movements must always be balanced, without no abrupt movements that may cause oscillations that affect the correct trajectory of the bike.

Distributing the rider’s weight is important

Starting from the bottom up, the feet should be placed on the footrests in a natural position, always close to the ends of the shift and rear brake levers. If the feet are placed backward or open on the footpegs, each time the levers must be operated, apart from taking more time, they will have to move more than necessary, which over prolonged use can lead to fatigue or pain. Logically, how you use your feet also changes a lot depending on the type of riding: whether it is a lively and sporty ride or a relaxed, touring ride.

For sporty riding, the rider’s weight should be taken advantage of and applied more on the footpeg closest to the inside of each turn. This means that, on turns to the right, more weight will rest on the footpeg on that side, and on turns to the left, the opposite. In this way, the changes in footpeg support will also help change the bike’s direction and its movements between curves.

Your knees should bend the amount needed by each bike and placed very close to the bike, but without being fully supported so that vibrations or heat from the engine do not affect the rider. If they are placed more open than they should be, the air from riding can force them open even more, which could cause fatigue on trips or prolonged use.

Of course, the rider should be seated on the seat, but some of their weight should also be supported by their legs. If all your weight is on the seat, the support area is likely to be affected more than necessary for long journeys. Also, if all the weight is loaded on the seat, in sport riding the center of gravity of the bike-rider combination can be set back and raised more than may be considered adequate, which affects the overall bike handling and rear tire grip when accelerating out of corners. Hence the importance of having part of the rider’s weight on the footpegs through the feet.

The back bent forward and the arms bent

With regard to the correct position of the rider’s back, although this will depend greatly on the type of motorcycle, it is best to be bent forward. First to seek greater protection and not be battered as much by the wind and also so that the bumps do not have an excessive impact on the vertebrae when the spine is very stiff. Another thing that should not be done is to slouch backwards, which seems to be popular.

The degree to which the back is curved forward also depends a lot on the position of the rider’s arms. Your arms should be bent with the elbows directly slightly upwards. They should never be straight or too stiff, as this makes it difficult to make quick movements such as those that needed on the handlebar grips in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Tensing them too much can also result in fatigue for prolonged use.

Your neck should also be angled slightly forward to reduce the force against the wind. You must aim to be balanced and, depending on the speed, take advantage of the helmet aerodynamics and orientation so that the strength required by the neck is as litlle as possible.

Moving your body and shifting weights 

It is clear that the rider’s body movements are very important when riding a motorbike. Hence, movements must be made on the bike and weight must be shifted between corners. In addition to moving on the seat, when negotiating a right-hand corner, the rider’s left shoulder and arm should move towards the tank of the motorbike. And in the case of a left-hand corner, it is the shoulder and arm on the other side that should be closer to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.

With regard to the rider being further forward or further back on the seat, this will depend largely on the speed. In urban use or low speed manoeuvres it is better for the rider to be close to the rear of the tank. However, as speed increases, it is better to move back on the seat, and even look for the rear stop on acceleration. On long journeys, it is also a good idea to use the rear part of the seat, which is generally wider and more cushioned, for greater riding comfort.

If the seat is height-adjustable, it is advisable to adjust it to a low position for sporty driving to facilitate weight shifts and movements between bends for the driver. For long journeys on fast roads, placing the seat in a raised position will benefit comfort as the driver’s legs are less bent.

Pay attention to all these tips, because if you dedicate time and money to your passion for motorbikes, you will gain in safety and comfort from the moment you get on your bike

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