There’s no denying that leg-dangling and elbow-down seems cool, however the actual query is – does it actually make you any quicker?
WORDS> TIM NEAVE
PICS> DOUBLE RED, GEEBEE IMAGES, MCAMS YAMAHA, Affect Photos
I’ve by no means been an elbow-down man. To inform you the reality, I’ve solely had it down as soon as in my life and it felt about as pure as a fish out of water. The one different instances I’ve had it down is when it’s been intently adopted by my arse after which my head.
I’d say I’ve received a really distinctive fashion. It’s actually not trendy, however it’s not fairly Mick Doohan, so it’s someplace in between. I believe that having an off-road background and never getting onto tarmac till I used to be 18 has performed an enormous half in my upright fashion, and though it has considerably developed in recent times, I do nonetheless discover it extremely laborious, or pressured, for need of a greater phrase, to hold off the bike just like the younger abilities of at the moment do. When you’re getting on tarmac from a younger age and also you’ve grown up watching the MotoGP stars dragging their elbow sliders, then that’s the fashion you’re naturally going to undertake. However as an older rider beginning out and having by no means watched a MotoGP or BSB race earlier than I received going, I didn’t have a clue. All I wished to do was get my knee down, and that was an enormous deal in itself, taking me two days to get the cling of.
Dragging an elbow isn’t a brand new craze, and sure riders have been doing it for many years, however for the reason that Marquez period, it’s been adopted by principally everybody and has reset the physique fashion commonplace as we all know it at the moment. There’s clearly a bonus for doing it at that degree and on these circuits. However what’s that benefit? Why are riders doing it? Does it actually make them quicker by way of a nook? Effectively, in a nutshell, the bikes, the electronics, and the tyres have improved a lot in recent times that it has allowed riders to push the boundaries and discover complete new ranges.
Hanging the physique off the down within the bike lowers the centre of gravity, helps to steer the bike by way of the corners and, in lots of instances, acts as a 3rd wheel to assist save a crash. We’ve seen it time and time once more with Marc Marquez when he pushes the entrance so laborious that it washes away, and he can push the bike again up utilizing his elbow and knee and save a crash. Having your elbow skimming the deck in addition to the knee gives yet one more level of contact between you, the bike, and the bottom, so that you acquire a greater really feel and reference for what’s occurring beneath you.
Nevertheless it’s not simply so simple as hanging off like a monkey for each single nook – it is advisable know when to do it, and when to not. Not each nook lends itself to this fashion and you could take into accounts issues like grip degree, line by way of the nook, bumps within the floor, tyres, and the bike you’re driving – all can have an effect on whether or not you need to be going for the elbow down. Sometimes, the sleek, lengthy radius corners are ones to be going elbow-down on, and as you get snug with this fashion it’ll grow to be extra obvious with the opposite kind of corners.
MotoGP and World Superbikes lend themselves to this fashion way more so than British Superbikes. Their tracks are typically a lot wider and smoother, with longer radius corners, and so they’re all driving on bigger diameter slicks with complicated digital aiding programs, whereas the British Superbike circuits are sometimes a lot tighter, narrower, bumpier, and of a stop-start nature. The BSB class does use the Pirelli slick, the identical as in WSBK, however with no electronics aids, reminiscent of traction management. The vast majority of the opposite help lessons use the Pirelli Supercorsa treaded tyres, which don’t present the identical grip ranges at lean as slicks. I’m racing within the Nationwide Superstock 1000 class, utilizing treaded Pirelli Supercorsa tyres, and we give away no less than one second a lap to the SBK class in tyre grip alone. While you take all of that into consideration, you’ll be able to see why British riders aren’t so generally dragging an elbow by way of the corners… however it does nonetheless occur.
While you take a look at who’s and who isn’t doing it within the British paddock, there’s a transparent sample between the younger riders and older era riders. The likes of Chrissy Rouse, Rory Skinner, Brad Ray and Ryan Vickers are all around the elbow-down fashion and so they’re extremely quick whereas doing it. Then you definately’ve received the likes of Josh Brookes, Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran who very seldom journey totally elbow-down, and that’s what leads me to my query – do I have to be doing it? I’ve received races and set quickest laps at Silverstone (of all locations – the least BSB-style observe we’ve received over right here) and I didn’t have my elbow anyplace close to the deck, however may I’ve been even quicker with it down?
I’ve not too long ago returned from Spain having had a number of days on observe at Almeria and Andalucia, doing a little testing on my Edwards 1902 Yamaha R1, and as soon as I’d learnt the circuits and gained a superb really feel for my new machine, I began having a play with getting my elbow down. Initially it felt awkward in my wrists: I felt disconnected to the bike and due to this fact misplaced the sensation for what was occurring beneath me. I simply couldn’t see the way it might be a bonus by any means, however that was as a result of I used to be having to power it so dramatically and it was fully unnatural. I believed that it might have come to me extra naturally in the course of the few days on observe, particularly with the flowing nature of the Spanish tracks, however it simply didn’t really feel proper and I wasn’t in a position to really feel any advantages from it by any means, so I resorted to my default driving fashion, which is to maintain my higher physique extra inside the bike and the place I really feel in tune with what’s occurring beneath.
On the flip aspect of all of this, I do suppose there’s a large benefit of driving together with your head extra upright and in the midst of the bike, and that’s for visibility of the observe and riders round you. While you’re cranked over together with your head buried down the within of the bike, it actually does restrict your imaginative and prescient of riders round you and the place the sting of the observe is. I additionally suppose that my fashion saves a whole lot of power. Transferring your arse back and forth helps steer the bike and retains the physique weight low, however by not transferring your higher physique a lot doesn’t cease the bike turning, but most positively helps preserve some power within the quick modifications of path, reminiscent of Corridor Bends at Cadwell, or Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone.
Gino Rea got here again to British Superbikes after an extended stint within the World Championship scene and most actually introduced the world fashion with him. If there was an award for getting your elbow down, then it’s all yours, Gino. Right here’s what Gino needed to say about his driving fashion…
“To be sincere, I don’t really feel like I overly cling off anymore. It began again in 2009 once I was driving the Honda in Superstock and I all the time simply felt like I needed to lean off additional and additional with my higher physique to assist the bike flip. I’ve received a brief physique and I all the time needed to put my chest, shoulder, and head low, down the aspect of the bike, to power the bike across the corners. For me, attempting to get your elbow down is improper for those who’re having to power it; it is advisable be utilizing the precise lean angle with the bike first, after which if you’re actually looking for that final little bit and drag the bike across the nook, that’s once I discover myself sliding my elbow on the ground.
“I first began doing it on the curbs and I couldn’t consider it. It wasn’t such a standard factor again then, and it simply developed from there. It truly received to a degree the place I used to be hanging too far off the bike and I wasn’t utilizing the lean angle, so I’ve needed to try to tame it just a little during the last 5 years or so and now it’s purely a device to assist steer the bike by way of the center of the nook. “I see riders leaning too far with their physique, and that simply prevents them utilizing the lean angle of the bike and defeats the article.
“I do a whole lot of rider teaching and it actually isn’t what I train first. It’s essential journey together with your core and your decrease physique, and the higher physique must be relaxed. So far as the leg dangling goes, that began in about 2009 additionally and I believe it’s due to my motocross and supermoto background. As quickly because the rear begins to slip going right into a nook on these bikes, you stick your leg out as a balancing device and an additional reference with lean angle and sliding. Once I received into Superstock and began backing the bike in, it simply felt pure to stay my leg out and I do suppose it helps to decrease the centre of gravity, however I don’t do it in each braking zone and it is determined by what the nook strategy is like and the way a lot rear brake I want to make use of.”
However what works for one man doesn’t essentially work for the subsequent, and if anybody is aware of what they’re speaking about, it’s Tarran Mackenzie, our 2021 British Superbike Champion.
“It’s not a profit for me to journey with my elbow down as a result of it’s not pure. I’m certain it’s for the riders who do discover it pure, and for those who’re a much bigger rider, then it might be useful. We do see riders saving the entrance on their elbows, extra so in MotoGP but additionally in World Superbikes now, so clearly that works.
“However for me, as a result of I’m small and it’s unnatural, once I do get it down, it’s like, ‘sh*t, I received my elbow down’. For the larger riders like Brad Ray or Storm Stacey, it’s possibly uncomfortable for them to journey with out their elbows down… I don’t know.
“I additionally suppose it relies upon what bike and tyres you’re driving on. Once I was driving the Moto2 bike with Dunlops, I may carry much more lean angle than I may with my Superbike on Pirellis, and I’m certain the likes of Pedrosa, Bastianini and Martin, who’re all comparable in peak to me, don’t have any bother getting their elbows down with the smaller bikes and super-sticky tyres, so it actually does rely what you’re on. With the leg dangle, I do it now and it’s grow to be extra pure not too long ago. I went by way of a stage of attempting to not do it, and that’s once I realised it had grow to be pure for me. Within the braking zones I really feel its helps take the load out of my arms, and since I don’t have an extended attain, I can’t push my physique weight again any additional, so the leg dangle helps transfer the load again and down.”
Chrissy Rouse received the 2020 Nationwide Superstock 1000 championship and rides along with his higher physique caught to the tank and his elbow down. Right here’s what he needed to say: “It’s not one thing I’m attempting to do anymore, it’s fully a pure fashion. Once I first jumped off the 125 and onto the 600cc machines, all I wished to do was get my elbow down and it was nearly a purpose so I may get some cool photos. I used to seize the top of the handlebar to try to get my elbow even nearer to the tarmac by way of the corners, however I quickly realised I wanted to focus on going quicker so I finished forcing it. I wouldn’t say I am going elbow-down in all places once I’m racing and I don’t power it, however it does sometimes scrape on the corners that lend themselves to that fashion, reminiscent of Luffield at Silverstone, and on the raised curbs at Paddock Hill at Manufacturers Hatch. I don’t notably really feel any advantages from driving with my physique up to now over the entrance of the bike; it’s simply my driving fashion now and it really works for me.
“I do dangle a leg within the braking zones; once more, as soon as I noticed the GP boys doing it, I gave it in the past after which it simply turned pure. I suppose the rationale is like if you skid a push bike on dust going into the corners, you naturally stick a leg out, so with the highway race bike, when the rear breaks traction going right into a nook, I really feel extra reassurance with my leg caught out.”
On the finish of the day, I believe you must journey nonetheless you are feeling most snug. When all’s mentioned and performed, a cushty rider is a quick rider and that’s the primary factor… until you simply wish to look cool for the images – effectively, that’s as much as you.
For me personally, it’s about getting across the observe within the quickest and most economical approach attainable. Clearly, it is advisable get your physique weight and lean angle into that candy spot for the tyres, the bike, and situations you’re driving in, after which I believe it’s a private choice whether or not you select to pull an elbow.
However I don’t suppose it makes you any quicker in BSB doing so, so that you in all probability received’t see me with scuffs on my elbow sliders any time quickly.
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