How Important is Weight Distribution?

Body position and weight distribution are two of the main components of riding your motorcycle safely.  Given the speeds you could be travelling, and the fact you are balancing on two wheels instead of the four you would have in a car, if you aren’t balanced on your bike appropriately it will unfortunately result in an accident of some sort!  In fact, many motorcycle accidents arise due to uneven weight distribution.

As a rider you have forward-to-back and side-to-side weight distribution to think about.  You need to think about when you need to sit and when you need to stand. Then there’s the blending of all of these movements in a smooth, instinctive way to get the ideal result. This takes a lot of practice and can take many years.

The first thing to think about when it comes to ensuring correct body positioning and weight distribution is if you were to stand beside your bike with the side stand up and simply hold it with one hand on the grip, you’d notice it doesn’t take much effort or strength to hold it up when it’s vertical. But to turn, motorcycles need to lean, and this is where correct positioning can make or break this nice, neutral balance.

The science-y part

Okay, so now for the ‘clever’ part.  Not falling off your bike, involves distributing your weight appropriately at the correct times.  And this means understanding a little bit about motorcycle dynamics, i.e. gravity.  All-terrain motorcycles tend to have a high centre of gravity, meaning the front wheel tends to lift when accelerating, and the rear wheel may lift when breaking.  In contrast, very powerful motorcycles tend to have a lower centre of gravity, meaning the rear wheel tends to slip in acceleration and the front wheel tends to slip when breaking.

Therefore the height of the centre of gravity of the motorcycle plays an imperative role in determining the way you should distribute your weight when riding.  The displacement of the centre of gravity due to the presence of the rider depends on the relation between the mass of the rider and that of the motorcycle.  Thus, to keep the centre of gravity central, and prevent the bike toppling over, the rider must ensure s/he uses his weight in contrast with the bikes weight, to balance it.  This means leaning more to the rear or to the front; or more to the left or the right.

 

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