May 15, 2006

Pro grip!

Rossi sets up a corner on his Yamaha M1 motorcycle
A huge part of how well you can control the motorcycle is a function of what you're doing with your hands. If your pudgy paws are wrapped around a motorcycle like a pressure bandage, you are going to get hurt. Next time you're watching MotoGP, look carefully everytime they show Rossi's hands. Look how neat his hands look on the grip. Look how gently his fingers squeeze the brake, and how gently he open the throttle. These are quick motions, but there is a finesse to them. Rossi does not whack the throttle open to go faster. He opens the taps smoothly, quickly and makes smoking hot getaways.

But I shouldn't be talking. Not long ago, my hands were pressure bandages too. No longer. Now, I cover clutch and brake levers with two fingers and the other two digits are shrink wrapped around the grip, but not too firmly. Sometimes, like Rossi, I will use three fingers on the brake if I think the brakes require more effort than two can muster. Doing this also slows down any sudden moves you make and smoothens your inputs. Which is what you should be aiming at in the first place. A dirt bike rider told me once, that when you use all four fingers to cover the brake, a largish bump can eject the grip from your hands. A road rider told me once, that when you don't cover the brake, you end up hitting the person/thing you could have stopped short of. Get it?

Look how Rossi grip seems so relaxedThe other nuance is to keep your forearms parallel to the ground. There's a good reason why. Next time your bike's on the main stand, try pushing down on the grips. Or pulling up. As you will realise, not only does it not help the steering at all, it causes only the bare minimum of suspension movement. The most effective way to (counter)steer a motorcycle is an exactly horizontal push/pull. If your forearms are parallel to the ground, that's what you achieve. The result will be smoother, lighter steering and more accuracy as well.

These photos are from Camel Yamaha MotoGP Team

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