TEAM Arizona Riding Tip October 2012: Ground Clearance to Major Tom

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Image of a cruiser motorcycle making a turn

All motorcycles have challenges with respect to ground clearance when cornering.  Some have more of a challenge.  Cruiser and touring motorcycles often have low controls that come into contact with the ground with only mild lean angles.  In fact, because these vehicles are often low to the ground, the riders of these motorcycles may end up having more traction available from the tires than they can actually use due to ground clearance challenges.  As we ride and become more confident leaning our motorcycles, we may find ourselves leaning the motorcycle so far over that we actually use up all of the available ground clearance our motorcycles have and begin to scrape pegs, foot boards, or other motorcycle hard parts on the ground.  Did you know that dragging hard parts may be a result of poor riding technique?

How can riding technique provide us much needed ground clearance?    One particular way is to review our cornering technique.  Look at this rider shown below:

Poor Body Position

If you were to draw a straight line directly through his body and the center of the motorcycle, you’d find that rider’s body is leaning towards the OUTSIDE of the curve.  This rider is increasing lean angle and reducing available ground clearance more so than if he would use proper cornering technique.  The rider is using up valuable traction that he could keep in reserve with proper cornering.

So what is proper cornering?  We’re so glad you asked!  In TEAM Arizona’s Advanced Riding Techniques (ART) course, we introduce a COW method (Chin Over Wrist) that places the body low and to the inside of the motorcycle to help increase ground clearance and reduce lean angle.  We provide you with the knowledge and then you immediately apply it on our range where our professionally trained RiderCoaches can immediately dispense help to improve your riding.

Body Position for the Corner

Notice how in the above picture the rider receives some major benefit from their advanced body position:  less lean angle and more traction in reserve.  We can help you become a more confident rider through the corner.  The Advanced Riding Techniques course is recommended for all riders who have a strong grasp of basic motorcycle operation and have roughly 2,000 miles under their belt within the last twelve months of riding.


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Mark Handy, Guest Contributor