U TURNS & FIGURE 8s
Make U-turns and low-speed manoeuvres as easy as 1-2-3
space-restricted conditions will give you the confidence to handle the challenges properly without risk to your own or anyone else’s safety.
Doing a u-turn on a motorcycle is part balance, and part power. To get the perfect blend of both, three very basic, simple techniques apply to manoeuvring your bike at slow speeds: Balance, clutch control and rear braking.
PART 1 – PREPARATION & BALANCE
Weight Out – Look in
You may also find it useful to shift your weight to the outside edge of your seat, especially if you have a sportsbike with limited steering lock or a long wheelbase cruiser bike. This counterbalancing technique will help you turn the bike in a tighter line.
Look Where You Want To Go
It’s a well-documented fact that where you look is where you and your bike will go.
With your eyes fixed on your exit point, turn the handlebars and keep your body upright. Let only the bike lean into the turn, and apply pressure to the outside footpeg to counterbalance the lean of the bike.
Keep your line of vision going through the turn. If the bike starts heading towards the kerb and everything else is in check, it probably means you’re not looking where you want to go. A mere glance at the kerb is enough to throw you off course.
PART 2 – CLUTCH CONTROL
Throttle & Clutch
From stationary, disengage the clutch just enough to find the friction point – where it starts to “grab”. That is when your bike just starts
to move forward, where you are “slipping” the clutch, i.e. it is not yet fully released.
Slipping The Clutch
Set the clutch at this point so the bike is just moving forward. Use enough throttle to ensure the engine doesn’t stall – it’s the clutch that controls your forward momentum at this stage, not the throttle.
PART 3 – REAR BRAKE
Tug o’ War
Because some bikes don’t have enough feel or progressiveness in their clutch, using the rear brake to help control the power assists the throttle/ clutch manipulation in maintaining smooth power to the rear wheel.
Don’t drag your feet, because that will compromise the balance of the bike. It’s a natural tendency to throw a leg out for stabilisation when making a slow turn, but the bike will only be balanced properly when your feet are on the pegs. Practice a wider arc first, then tighten it as your confidence grows
All Together Now
With the clutch and throttle set, apply the rear brake to slow the bike down further or you can dab the brake on and off. Gentle dragging of the rear brake creates stability, enabling better control while you’re manoeuvring your bike through the turn. Aim to create a slight tug-of-war between your rear brake and your engine to stabilise the bike. Keep in mind that the speed you’re travelling at should be the speed you’ll maintain through your turn.
Loose Surfaces & Confined Spaces
Where there isn’t room to do one clean arc or there is loose gravel, use your inside leg to avoid the front tucking. This will make your turning circle greater than counter-leaning but will save cost and embarrassment in awkward situations.
Leave the front brake alone Avoid using the front brake during u-turns. Applying the front brake at slow speeds with the bars turned even slightly will pull the bike to the ground like a magnet.