Motorcycle handling limits - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Motorcycle handling limits

A little background. I have an older 911 SC that I run on the track (just open lap days, nothing competitive). I am quite familiar with how the car lets me know I'm against the traction limit, and have managed to keep it out of the weeds/barriers for many years.

As I said in a previous post, the Versys is my first bike. I initially thought I'd just use it for fun commuting, but find myself pushing harder and harder in the canyons on the way home from work. I live in Colorado, work in Denver and ride home to the foothills everyday. By the way, please be assured that the the front range winter weather is terrible, and under no circumstances should you move here.

OK - actually, winter on the front range is beautiful except for a few snow storms, and this is a wonderful place to live. The sun shines almost every day. But the roads sure are getting crowded.

Anyway, I unfortunately often find myself heading down to work in the early morning to prepare for whatever is coming up that day. Early morning = almost no vehicles on the street = why shouldn't I drive through the canyon at 80+ MPH.

This brings me to my questions. On the car, I know what the limits feel like. What do the limits feel like on a bike? I've regularly pushed until the bolts under the foot pegs drag on the street. I recently switched to Michelin PR3's and just this morning pushed until the soles of my boots at the toes touched the street - those tires feel really good. Not wanting to die however, how do you tell on a bike that you're at the traction limit? If you push too hard, is it a matter of very gently coming off the throttle and counter-steering, or is it something that simply cant be controlled once you cross the threshold?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:43 PM
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You will feel either end push or wobble. If the font pushes, you will pucker at the feeling. For the most part you are courting disaster, especially in the canyons with the possibility of a little sand washed onto the road.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:54 PM
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 04:52 PM
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Do yourself a favor and find a trackday or class in your area and take it. The price in a 911 for pushing too hard is a bent car....on a bike it gets ugly fast, for YOU.

Or was that look THEN leap?
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 01:20 AM
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I always say that bike is fantastic but dangerous: keep it in mind.
In open roads you could find sand, oil, humidity and to loose bike control.
hit gas until you can stop the bike safely for a panic stop, no more.

Nobody thinks that something is so easy like who is totally unable to do it.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 05:08 AM
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Ask a submarine captain how deep his sub can go
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 05:49 AM
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I used to work south of Morrison in the 80's and go for rides at lunch and after work on my GPZ. Having the front push wide in a turn one day stopped me from riding fast for many years to come. Peg scraping my Versys on sport touring tires on those roads is something I would not do for $10K today.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 07:45 AM
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Creirwy, back in 1976 just north of Bolder Co,, a 2 up bemer passed me on the twistys at about 1100 feet. There was a flash and then the bemer was gone,, Was that you????
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 09:11 AM
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Lucky you for getting into bikes. Pretty soon you'll forget about your car.

But to answer your question, it's like this...one minute you're up- then you're down. That last instant before you went down was the limit of your traction in that particular piece of road under those conditions. Try not to step over the line again.
Hope this helps.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 12:02 PM
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Dragging hard parts on the V? You really need to understand body position, because your body position sucks.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 09:05 AM
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I wouldn't jump to conclusions but I suspect that you could hang your body off more and lean the bike less. but that wasn't the question.

regarding traction, so much of that depends on the tires and type of road surface some give you much more warning with some wiggling or controlled sliding while others the traction is like a light switch and just gets turned off. I'm passed my pushing it on the road days.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 10:09 AM
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The difference between the 911 and the Versys is that the limits of the 911 are very much defined by the vehicle itself. Tires, brakes, suspension, etc all work together to define its limit. Different drivers can get it closer to or farther from its limit without pushing it over the limit, but largely the limit is the same.

On the bike, the limit is mostly up to you. Yes, tires, brakes, suspension, all the same stuff that play a role in the car play a role on the bike, and the bike does have an absolute limit that it cannot go past, but you're deciding how far the bike is leaned over, where you are on the bike and what you're doing to affect traction while leaned over, which is another way to say that the limit changes, largely depending on what you're doing.

In general, the bike will let you know when its at its limit, the problem is recognizing the message, knowing what to do with it, and reacting in time. You have very little time to react once the bike tells you you're going too far.

The other problem is that many ways to save the bike from going down are counter-intuitive. For instance, a tank slapper, your brain will be telling you to get on the brakes and slow the F down. What you really need to do is take weight off the front tire, i.e. get on the throttle hard. Very counterintuitive.

When the front end washes out, your brain will again be telling you to get on the brakes, and grip the bars so you can try to right the bike. Most of the time, what you need to to is relax, dont white-knuckle the bars, and let the tire do its thing, and it will recover.

There is much reading to be done on this subject, and if you're truly interested in understanding how to ride at the absolute limit of traction, it would do you well to understand all the theories of how to ride and how a bike handles at the limit.

Last edited by Mattydiah; 11-03-2014 at 01:04 PM.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 03:57 PM
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There are some good and thoughtful responses here, and I'm pretty much just agreeing with what the other folks said. As for the the physical limits of the bike, well, they put the peg feelers there for a reason. If you're clipping pegs dial it back a bit to leave yourself some room to tighten up a line should the need arise. Finding the limits of tire/pavement adhesion is better left for the track- much better crash sites available.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 04:18 PM
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If you are going to be riding as you described..I would suggest you get your hands on a copy of "Total Control" by Lee Parks (if you haven't already that is)...it will answer some of your questions about traction and control...also I hope you're living by ATGATT (all the gear all the time)...you don't wear gear for the ride..you wear gear for the crash (hey..they're not all YOUR fault)...have a good time peg dragging and toe scrapping..been there..done that..but I would think a nice sportbike (ninja 650??) might be more appropriate...
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 05:13 PM
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Agree with the thoughts about dragging hard parts - that's an accident waiting to happen. Dragging pegs can leverage the rear wheel off the pavement and down you go. If you are going to ride that aggressively, get a butt cheek off the bike, keeping your spine in line with the bike so that your head is where the mirror is. That being said, the best place for that is the track. No room for error on the street. I save it for trackdays.

If you are smooth with inputs (throttle/brake), the tires will let you know when you're at the limit of traction. Set the brakes before squeezing. A bit of neutral (maintenance) throttle before full throttle. Brake and throttle application smooth and progressive. "Stab" the brakes, "whack open" the throttle, and the tires have no time to "talk" to you. You'll be on the ground wondering what the hell just happened. That's for the track. Too many variables on the street, like oil, gravel, etc.

Another good read is Sportriding Techniques by Nick Ienatsch.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone who responded with information and well though out warnings to me. I fully agree that I'm being an idiot doing this on public roads, and your responses are appreciated and have helped drive that point home. I promise I'm trying to resist temptation.

My summary of the responses to my question is that there is a very slight chance that you might get some warning that you are against the limits, but even then it's quite unlikely that you'll actually be able to recover.

To the very small minority on the I suck front, you are more than entitled to your opinion, but unless you can express it in a constructive fashion, I can't in good conscience include you in the thanks I'm extending to everyone else
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 11:07 PM
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+1 this. I don't know how old you are, but your tolerance with finding the breaking point decreases with age. I'm 50 and used to like to taking all kind of chances that are easier to recover from (if you don't die). You seem intelligent to take the wisdom given and go from there. Be safe and enjoy.
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creirwy View Post
My summary of the responses to my question is that there is a very slight chance that you might get some warning that you are against the limits, but even then it's quite unlikely that you'll actually be able to recover.

To the very small minority on the I suck front, you are more than entitled to your opinion, but unless you can express it in a constructive fashion, I can't in good conscience include you in the thanks I'm extending to everyone else
We all ride and progress at our own speed..aka ride your own ride...those who criticized don't know you...there are errors you can recover from and then there are errors that send your ass flying through the air...watch some motoGP..those guys are the kings and they crash...you'll find some limits when you crash...there's no way "we" can tell you what yours are...the bike (Versys) is no sportbike..so sure it has limits...those you'll have to find...the book I recommended (Total Control) WILL answer some of your questions..but I don't think I can quote it all here...HondaGal's book is good too...I know "it's reading" but well worth it...otherwise have fun..and ride ride ride...

ps..no there are no warning lights..bells or whistles before you cross the limit..just a sickening feeling in your stomach..an "oh no" flashes across the front of your mind..and if it's going to be really bad your brain actually shuts off so you won't have to see it too...

pss...I'm pretty sure "track time" has been mentioned (good place to crash if nothing else)...it's not just the track..it's the people you'll meet and instructions they'll be glad to give you...don't be afraid to ask..most people are more than willing to share or at point you to someone who will...it's a big beautiful world at "track time"...

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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 11:26 PM
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a big plus one
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 07:08 AM
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Mine has some solid chicken strips, but then again I'm certainly less aggressive with this one as I was with my gixxer (first bike)

I've often wanted to get a cheek off coming to a corner, but this seat is pretty grippy and the forward angle often means I have to push back before sliding my butt over. Considerably more effort than my gixxer was. So for the most part I end up with a modest approach and keep my butt planted , hence my blatant strips

Then again, every corner I approach I am assuming gravel, twigs, leaves, squirrel, a-hole crossing the centerline, etc, are all possibly waiting for me

One day I'm going to find an abandoned lot (like I did with my gixxer) and just go in circles to see how much I can lean. That was always fun to do because it actually showed progression right then and there
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