Most track riders will know roughly where they want to position themselves for their mid-corner hang-off. However, what isn’t so clear in everyone’s minds is how they move into that position from the braking zone, through corner entry, and then eventually into their full hang-off position mid-corner.
In this article I wanted to go over the details of the body position transition in this first half of the corner so that you can be more confident in how you move your body, and when you move it.
One of the key aspects that make up a good rider is their ability to affect stability as little as possible as they move around on the bike.
Believe it or not, you weigh a lot!
Your weight makes up roughly one third of the total weight of bike and rider. It is for this reason that we have to be mindful of when and how we move our bodies around, and at what time that happens.
I’m of the opinion that we should be getting our lower body into position for the corner before we begin braking. This is how you’ll see the majority of riders doing it at the highest levels.
If we assume you’re about to enter a big braking zone, if you don’t get into position before you begin braking then your only other option would be to move your lower body in the short time you have from when you begin releasing the brake to when you begin steering and entering the corner, because trying to move during your big braking effort is not only going to be difficult, but it’d be unwise too.
Getting set early means putting yourself in the position in the seat that you would use during your mid-corner hang off.
If we assume the rider normally moves one cheek off the seat for their hang-off, this would simply mean shifting your backside across and getting into that position before you sit up and begin braking.
Your head will remain in the middle of the bike and your feet won’t change position either.
Once you begin braking your only body position action will be to sit up (and downshift if you need to).
Sitting up gets your body into the wind to act as an extra slowing force, but it also puts you in a much better position to use the controls and brace some of your weight on the bars.
With the lower body it’s my preference to keep both knees up against the tank so that I can squeeze it to stop myself sliding forward, but also to create a level of support as I engage my lower body and core.
Having weight on the bars is inevitable in big braking zones, but you can still work to remove some of that weight by using your lower body and core like this.
With your lower body already in place all you have to worry about as you approach your entry point is steering the bike as you release the brake, and then beginning to commit your upper body.
At this stage you still want to be in a good position to use the controls because you may still be tapering off the brakes, and obviously you’re now beginning to push on the inside bar and steer the bike into the corner.
For this reason you don’t need to be too hasty with getting your upper body and head off to the inside.
Remaining more central in this phase will just make using those controls easier as you work to modulate your final bit of braking and steer the bike.
Now that you’re committing to the corner and beginning to lean the bike over, you can also begin committing your upper body and head to the corner too.
Your goal should be commit your upper body at the same rate as you lean the bike over, with the end goal being to reach your maximum hang-off position at the same point that you reach your maximum lean angle for the corner and your line is set.
In reality it won’t always sync up perfectly line this, but it’s a good way to imagine a nice smooth transition.
If you steer slowly for a particular corner, your upper body transition to full hang-off will be slower too. If you flick the bike over quickly, your transition will be quicker.
With so much concentration on committing your upper body you may forget about the job of your lower body, which is to provide support for your hang-off so that you can remain loose on the bars.
As the bike leans over your lower body and core is going to be called into action more and more as your upper body moves more to the inside, meaning you’ll feel the effort ramp up in your legs and core at a similar rate as you work to keep that grip loose.
If you don’t engage your lower body then you’re likely going to find yourself with a very tense inside arm, which is not what we want.
And that’s it! You’re now in the middle of the corner at your maximum lean angle and maximum hang-off position with a nice loose grip on the bars (I hope).
The process itself isn’t too complicated, but in practise you may need to work on your timing.
At first you’ll be thinking about everything a little too much, but before long it’ll start to become automatic and it’ll move into your subconscious.
Like I said it won’t always be a perfectly synced transition. Some corners will mean you take a different approach, and some riders will have slightly different timings too.
Take what I’ve covered here as a base to aim for, then see how that fits around the corners that you ride.