Getting your knee to touch the Tarmac is still the holy grail for many...
The trick to getting your knee down is revealed...
Getting your knee down is still one of the defining moments for most riders. I’m sure we all know of riders who will destroy a set of sliders in a few sessions on track or at their local roundabout, and I’m similarly sure that we know of people that have got the angle grinder out or bought some used ones from eBay (the chicken strips on these riders’ tyres are always a very good give away for this one!).
Some riders find it really hard to do while others seem to be able to glide their knees on the floor with little or no trouble, so what’s the issue?
Well, in most cases it is not the bike as current and past issues of this fine rag will show you – people knee sliding on all manner of bikes. And in most cases it’s not the tyres or the suspension set-up.
No, what’s needed is an education on the correct body position and the key route to this is how stable the rider can be on the bike.
You see, the rider and bike have a very symbiotic relationship. We need each other. We are lost without each other. And the bike is a bit of a mimic – which is both good and bad. How the bike communicates with us is important for us to feel the grip we need to lean the bike over.
Think of it as having a disagreement with the missus. It gets worse and worse until you don’t communicate with each other at all. That can be you and your bike! Once the bike gets into this condition it quits listening to any of the inputs that you’re giving it. You both want control but neither of you are ‘connecting’ so the situation gets worse.
Now, if we are stable on the bike then the bike will generally be stable too. This is a good thing. But the same can be said if we are unstable on the bike. In this scenario there is a good chance the bike will mimic your stance and become unstable as well.
So because of this we can find ourselves and the bike in various stages of stability. The ideal is, of course, a stable rider and therefore a stable bike. The next stage that we could have is an unstable bike but a stable rider. This isn’t too bad, as guess what? Provided you remain stable the bike should, and normally does, follow suit, thus returning us to the ideal scene of a stable bike and a stable rider.
Next we can have a stable bike but an unstable rider. This is not so good as the bike will again mimic us and become unstable due to our own instability. This is the stage a lot of riders get to when they are trying to get their knee down for the first time. Some riders manage to get their knee on
If we are stable on the bike, the bike will be stable too...
the ground – but it is quickly followed by their arse.
So the final stage is both an unstable rider and an unstable bike. This is as bad as it gets and the bike can get so out of hand that it can throw the rider off and then guess what happens the instant the rider is ejected? Yup, you’ve got it, the bike becomes stable again. It’s just a shame that the rider is no longer on board to enjoy it!
So, simple body positioning
More lean and less stability will only end in one way...
to get your knee down needs to be started from a stable position, the more stable the better. This means using your legs as your means of support, not your handlebars. The more you use your legs the better the upper body can relax and the more your inside leg can be loose and flexible so you can hang it out in the hope of the plastic touching the Tarmac.
The more unstable you are the harder it will be to do and the more chance you have of destabilising the bike in the corner, then you feel less and less comfortable and start to rely on more lean angle to make the interface happen.
Let me tell you – more lean and less stability is only going to end in one way...
But there is so much more that can be gained from a rider being in a stable position on the bike and that’s where body positioning techniques will come into play. Now, we cannot make big movements with the body but we can position our body weight to influence the bike, the ‘Hook Turn’ being just one of them that Keith Code discovered, and one that we coach at the school. Come and try it!
It’s like the Kama
Sutra on bikes...
Andy ‘Spidey’ Peck