Lean angle, especially in SLOW tighter turns. How to cope? - Victory Forums - Victory Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 04:23 AM Thread Starter
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Default Lean angle, especially in SLOW tighter turns. How to cope?

Ok, so my Hammer S is my very first cruiser, but let me back up just a bit, and you'll more easily understand my apprehension and thusly, my questions here.


I also own a sportbike, and LOVE it. I have no real issues riding it, cornering, leaning... none of that. I don't hang off (I don't believe in knee-dragging on the street, it is both unpractical & unwise anywhere except the track), but I can lean it well to match the turn I am entering. Short wheelbase, grips significantly closer together than a cruiser, lighter weight, all-around more flickable.

Now I hop on my new cruiser and I noticed a few things on my maiden voyage.



From a stop (say turning at a red light):

Initiating a left turn, from a stop, I run WAYYY wide. Nearly curbed the front tire twice in my first two turns. I feel at low speed that if I turn the bars too sharply, the bike is just gonna tip right the hell over. Remember... I'm not accustomed to the low speed weight of this bike yet.

From a stop, right turn:

Still run a tad wide, in one case went about 3" or 4" over the double-yellow to complete my turn. Again, the trepidation of getting the bike going from a stop, letting out the clutch smoothly, swinging my feet into position (I'm used to lifting them up and "hooking them" back on a sportbike's pegs), AND finally concentrating on my turn.



In a left turn lane, on a left green arrow:

This one was alarming as it snuck up on me. Unlike the previous issue I wrote about earlier, in this case I had more runway, so I was able to get up in second gear... countersteering is now in effect to a greater degree, and a bit more speed helps to compress the suspension as it grips for the turn. If I were leaning like this on my sportbike, the turn would have had no issues, but on this longer, heavier machine with a 250 tire on it... I realized about halfway through the turn that I was NOT going to make it at my current angle. The curb was coming and this was gonna get ugly... so I pushed harder on the left bar and leaned it so far that it SEEMED as though I could have been knee-dragging I was soooo low. This over-correction kept me mostly in my lane, but I overshot it by about 3" or so, which meant I was over the white line, but did not hit the curb on the outside of the lane.


Another tidbit to add is that prior to this purchase, my ONLY experience on a large cruiser was all of ten minutes, and in a u-turn (left) I did in fact drop the bike, and that has left me with a paralyzing fear of slow, tight turn maneuvers on most any bike. While I can handle my sportbike well i all instances, I tend to shy away from u-turns, insisting on going halfway around a block if I am able, in order to avoid doing them.


So now that we have the situations laid out, hopefully you understand where my hesitations or "fears" come from.

Here are the questions/situations I'd like advice on:

1) I truly love cornering on my sportbike, so there really isn't a blanket fear of cornering to contend with, at least at decent speeds, but on my Hammer I feel as though I need to go unnaturally far with my lean to do a medium speed turn. Is this abnormal to feel like this?

2) The paralyzing fear I have of low speed, tight turning maneuvers has got to go away for me to practically live with this style of bike. I plan to spend a LOT of time practicing in a huge empty parking lot, but the initial fear still must be contended with. Locking, or near-to-locking the wheel in either direction and initiating a sharp turn from a stop to low speeds... how best to get into doing this properly?

3) If anyone here has transitioned from a sprightly little sportbike to a cruiser, can you help me understand how to adjust to the different dynamics? I surely cannot keep running into oncoming lanes without making life interesting for others on the road. I also need to understand the leaning angle limitations of this type of bike.



I should mention also that I did in fact take an MSF course, and did swimmingly well. But while most can say "a bike is a bike is a bike", a 250cc Rebel used in the class is absolutely NOT like a 700+lb Hammer at low speeds. Over 15mph most everything feels the same, but the long wheelbase and extra weight do play a part in very low speed moves.


Any advice is welcomed, thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 06:36 AM
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OK...You may think I am being a smart-ass but honestly I am not....You need to find a large parking lot and go there and ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,and then....ride some more. You should feel as though you are a part of the bike...not a lump perched on top of it. Always remember the addage...the bike will go to where your nose is pointed....Practice some "box" turns and get your confidence up...Yes, this bike will handle differently...but it can and will respond and handle quite nicely IF you give it the attention it needs....Have fun and good luck...PS....stay out of traffic until you have the basics mastered...you will get yourself or someone else killed if you don't.....Paul

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 07:44 AM
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One of the other things, along with lots of practice, is yur Hammer is a total different bike than a sport bike. The first time I rode a Vic in 05 the thing I noticed and it took a bit to get used to it was the way that it steered/handled at slow speed. The steering felt completely different. I am sure it has something to do with rake and trail and I do not pretend to understand that stuff. Once I got used to it, didn't take long, no problem, until the next time I got off my Wing and rode the wifes bike. It comes down to what you are used to, and now riding a different animal.

I had the same issues on my Wing when I first got it. Pull away from a stop to a right turn, found myself going WAY wide. Practice with a little neutral zone, and build confidence. In a short time everything was under control and I was dragging footboards in turns that were shakey at best at first.

I don't have much experience on a sport bike, but they sure look like one could have a ball with one, not to mention getting into trouble(with the law) in a hurry!!! Maybe that is why I never bought one, then again----

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Paul M View Post
OK...You may think I am being a smart-ass but honestly I am not....You need to find a large parking lot and go there and ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,and then....ride some more. You should feel as though you are a part of the bike...not a lump perched on top of it. Always remember the addage...the bike will go to where your nose is pointed....Practice some "box" turns and get your confidence up...Yes, this bike will handle differently...but it can and will respond and handle quite nicely IF you give it the attention it needs....Have fun and good luck...PS....stay out of traffic until you have the basics mastered...you will get yourself or someone else killed if you don't.....Paul


I appreciate the response, but I already put this in my original post... I plan to spend a lot of time in a parking lot close to me, practicing and familiarizing myself with the new bike.

What I need to know however, is are there any tips to help me ease into it, cuz dropping it in a parking lot is still dropping it... and I'd rather avoid that

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 12:34 PM
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OK...Guess you didn't like my response...well you are going to love this one. Take one of the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Federation) courses..they offer several variations and the help that experience riders can give you would be worth every cent invested...Did you ride the Hammer before you bought it..? I didn't think it would be that different but hey....I ride dirt and a Vegas Cruiser not a crotch rocket.....

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 01:23 PM
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Bandit, I can empathize with you. My XR is my first cruiser and I had to get my synapses rewired in order to do exactly what you are concerned about. Here is how I got a cruiser to do what I wanted it to do: 1. Look where you want to be. As one forum member sez: "The bike goes where you point your nose." I find I even have to look more to the extreme of the turn. Example: In a right turn, I look to the right edge of pavement. 2. Body steering is very helpful. Example: In a left turn you press down with your left foot and your right leg presses against the tank. That reduces the pressure you apply to the bars. 3. Buy the DVD, Ride Like A Pro and practice what you learn. That will be the best investment you (and any rider) can make.

Once I got all that into my brain, I now have a great time doing the twisties in my area. Once I was riding with a freind who has a Honda ST1300. When we approached some twisties, he politely let me lead, thinking he'll ride my slower ride. When we came to a rest stop, he admitted he thought my long, low cruiser wouldn't fare well in the twisties and also admitted that he couldn't keep up with me and realized why I bought a Cross Roads instead of another brand of cruiser. FYI: The body steering technique is a big help, especially when working twisties.

Now, take this old timer's advise and go out and have some fun with your Hammer.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I did ride the Hammer before buying it, and fell in love with it.

As mentioned, already went through MSF, and I do have plans to attend the advanced rider's course, although I planned to do that on my rocket, not on a cruiser. Looks like I'll have to do both now.

Yes, it is entirely different going from a rocket to cruiser, especially in the turns.

On a sportbike you are gripping the tank with your thighs (no way to do this on a cruiser), and in turns you slide forward, slide your butt halfway off the seat, drop down a bit so your head is nearly parallel with the grip, and lean the bike to turn. You don't have the same ergos on a cruiser, so you cannot use the same body position.

On a rocket, you never sit upright in a turn, this is bad body positioning for the bike and can make turns more difficult, but on a cruiser you almost have no choice, so you must retrain yourself on the new style.

I was just hoping to pick up tips on how to find that new style.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RICZ View Post
Bandit, I can empathize with you. My XR is my first cruiser and I had to get my synapses rewired in order to do exactly what you are concerned about. Here is how I got a cruiser to do what I wanted it to do: 1. Look where you want to be. As one forum member sez: "The bike goes where you point your nose." I find I even have to look more to the extreme of the turn. Example: In a right turn, I look to the right edge of pavement. 2. Body steering is very helpful. Example: In a left turn you press down with your left foot and your right leg presses against the tank. That reduces the pressure you apply to the bars. 3. Buy the DVD, Ride Like A Pro and practice what you learn. That will be the best investment you (and any rider) can make.

Once I got all that into my brain, I now have a great time doing the twisties in my area. Once I was riding with a freind who has a Honda ST1300. When we approached some twisties, he politely let me lead, thinking he'll ride my slower ride. When we came to a rest stop, he admitted he thought my long, low cruiser wouldn't fare well in the twisties and also admitted that he couldn't keep up with me and realized why I bought a Cross Roads instead of another brand of cruiser. FYI: The body steering technique is a big help, especially when working twisties.

Now, take this old timer's advise and go out and have some fun with your Hammer.


Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BanditSRT8 View Post
Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?


Oh yes, tire width definitely affects cornering characteristics and so does air pressure. Make certain you have the recommended or a couple pounds more.

I'm not familiar with the Twist of the Wrist video, but I do read Keith's articles in bike mags. I think Ride Like a Pro would be helpful because it involves cruisers and tourers to demonstrate that they are capable of doing what sport bikes can do.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-19-2011, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BanditSRT8 View Post
Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?
You figured it out. That was going to be my response to you. As Paul M said take it to a parking lot and ride the hell out of it. It takes a little time but not much to get used to the wide tire.

Whatever you do don't ride it like your sport bike on curves until you are very familiar with the ride. Counter steering will become second nature on your bike.
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