It took me a long time to get my knee down on a track day. My speed was coming along nicely and I was doing well from a fundamental standpoint, but my knee just wouldn’t hit the deck, even though I could see that most rider’s knees around me were (many of whom I was passing).
For this reason I totally understand the frustrations of riders that want to make it happen, however silly that may be, and how it can sometimes become a big focus for the learning rider.
In this article I wanted to touch specifically on where around the track the best places are to practise getting your knee down, as apposed to going into a full “how to get your knee down” guide.
We’ve already talked about good body position for knee down, and we’ve also covered how to increase your lean angle too, which is a key part of getting your knee down once your body position is set.
With that, let’s go over a few points on how to approach this.
A big part of improving any area of riding is to go out there with a plan and to execute that plan. Just riding around hoping for something big to change is unlikely to get you the result you want. Certainly not in the timeframe you want, anyway.
For this I would advise you get clear on exactly where you are going to push your current limits to get that knee down. This could be as specific as one corner in particular if that’s what you think suits the following criteria…
In my opinion, picking a medium speed corner is a good place to start because the speeds aren’t so crazy they scare you, and they aren’t so slow that it feels more difficult to get into your desired body position (slow corners tend to make it harder to hang off).
If you have a direction you feel more comfortable in (most riders do) then pick a medium speed corner in that direction because again, it’s going to remove a level of discomfort.
The final piece of advice on this is to pick a longer corner. What often happens when riders try to push lean angle limits is that they lean into a corner and bump straight into the normal limit where they feel comfortable.
In shorter corners this doesn’t give you much time to adjust. In longer corners where you spend multiple seconds at a given lean angle, you have time to assess the situation and work to lean the bike more so that you can get your knee closer to the ground.
Basically, what we’re doing here is trying to find the best platform to push your limits. Somewhere where you’re more comfortable and there’s less things occupying your mind so you can really focus on doing the thing you need to do – lean the bike!
Forget about hitting the perfect points around the track or creating the ideal lines for maximum speed through the particular corners you’re working in.
We have one goal here… Break your lean angle barrier and get your knee down!
All we’re looking to do is get you nudging past your current limit, so just think of the space you have as a play area to do just that.
I’d still advise you work to use the track width and remain predictable like you expect of every other rider out there. All I’m saying here is not to worry about nailing bike placement and lines for now.
Knowing and practising good body position technique is a prerequisite for this, so when you have that in place and you begin trying to push your limits, don’t be afraid to really stick that knee out to get that touch.
It’s not the way you’ll ride in the future, however in my experience getting that initial touch can have a psychological effect on how confident you are going to that lean angle again… and past it.
Like I said, I know how the desire to achieve getting your knee down can build, especially if it takes longer than you were hoping.
We all know that on paper, getting your knee down doesn’t have a huge effect on your speed, but it is a big deal for a lot of riders and I don’t think anyone should feel silly for wanting to achieve this common motorcycling goal.
Take the tips I offer above and continue with some intentional practise and I have every faith you’ll hit the goal of your very first knee down!
Just be sure to send me a picture if you can. I LOVE that stuff.
How to Tackle Hairpin Corners on the Track
How to Get the Most from Your Track Time: Pre-Ride Prep & How to Approach Your Day
How to Deal With the Panic When Someone Takes Your Line
Body Position: What the Bike Wants From You As a Rider