This month we did special training days at Taupo, Tokoroa and Patetonga- the last of which being where this months skill comes from. It came after a specific request from Coleman and his dad- that I help him avoid having the dreaded front wheel wash out. Tune in to find out how we fixed it.
I got Coleman to go around the first corner at speed, and instantly saw what the problems were. He was doing exactly what I had been guessing he would do, and I didn’t need him to do a second run. I pulled him and told him I had some bad news and good. The good news was that I could fix it. The bad news was that he would have to undo some of the skills he had picked up from somewhere.
Cause and Effect
He was leaning forward through the turn, to the point where his head was over the handlebars. I asked him why, and he gave a very rational answer. “I am trying to be aggressive.”
So here is my speel. Getting your head over the front is perfect for once you have finished most of your turn and starting to boost down the next straight. Under full throttle most of the top riders get so low that it is exactly the same as when they launch off the starting gates. It saves energy and keeps the front wheel from lifting when all the forces are trying to lift it off the ground. But that is definitely not what all the forces are trying to do when you are likely to wash the front wheel in a corner.
Let’s ask a few Q’s;
- Should you be right over the front while braking hard? No. That is pretty simple because all the forces are already on the front wheel.
- Ok, so when does your front wheel normally wash out? Is it when you really want to turn hard? I would say yes.
Just as we want to use our body to even the weight on the wheels under hard powering and hard braking, we need to even out the weight on our wheels while trying to turn hard. The fact is, when you are turning hard, there is more pressure on the front wheel than the rear (unless you are power sliding or brake sliding). You can ease that pressure by using some rear brake or a small amount of power, but the most effective way to do it is to lean back.
This is what we got Coleman to do.
- Sit further forward on the seat, right up into the dip so that he could only see about four fingers worth of seat. That meant he could lean further back when he needed to.
- Only put his leg out when he wanted to turn hard, and keep it more bent. A straight leg turns you into a robot with very little ability to move. Knee high, leg bent, calf muscle hugging the radiator shroud is the way.
- Purposely get his head well behind the handlebars for the worst part of the turn, but otherwise be more relaxed and central. Then start getting his head over the front and letting his bum slide back as he increased his power.
Basically it is all about balance. Just like you want to get over the front for hard powering, and get your weight back for hard braking, you need to adjust your body weight to keep a more even weight on each when while turning hard. This takes plenty of practice to know exactly when and how much to move, but as Coleman found, it is very effective.
I caught up with him a few weeks later and his dad told me that not only was he riding just as fast (if not faster) than before, but he had not washed his front wheel out once since I had seen him.
These individual sessions do give us the chance to iron out specific needs for each rider, so if we are coming to your area or you can meet us in the BOP/ Waikato area during a week day then make sure you get in touch.