Knee down.. what the big deal??
Knee down is arguably the most thrilling part of riding performance motorcycle. This gravity defying act is truly one of the most gratifying action you can performed on a sport motorcycle. It is true that you do not need to get your knee dragged to get a fast lap time – I do have friend that faster then me without getting his knee down – yet knee down is truly a pro treat that you see all the way to the MotoGP level.
But before we continue, I just want to stress that knee down should not be done in public road and without proper riding gear.
You will always remember your first knee down, mine was at Sentul GoKart track riding Suzuki Satria FU150. Just moment after that I crashed. Apparently I lean just bit too much to get my knee on the tarmac and with speed that bit too low. Even-though I crashed, for a split second I did felt my first knee down.
My first “true” knee down was at that gokart track as well. Several week after that, I did get my speed enough, lean enough, and suddenly I heard this scratching noise and some strange sensation from my knee. I did it! It was my right knee. Before the end of the day I got both knee down almost on any corner. Sweet!
Coming to the big track with Superbike and Supersport bike I did get my knee down the first with my CBR. Somehow I did not get my knee down with my Ducati superbike. But again my lap time with the Ducati was still in 2 minutes range, while with the CBR about 1 minutes fifty ish…
The following are what I think how to get a knee down, but be aware that I am neither pro rider nor racer so do take the following with the grain of salt;
1. Correct speed
This is key. You need to have enough speed so the bike’s centrifugal force during cornering able to counter the gravity pulling the bike down on its side. With enough speed you can lean the bike (that pull by gravity) in an extreme angle becuase the centrifugal force during corner will keep and push the bike outside and up, hence a balance while leaning in the corner. Obviously the faster you go the leaner you can get. As an example, from my experience at turn 1 Sentul circuit (R1) you need to have corner speed about 120kph+ to get your knee down. At speed bellow that you will not get your knee down. At turn 4 (R4) I get my knee down around 80 kph.
The hangging position. Proper posture shall have low center of gravity on the inside of the corner. Basically that is by getting your butt out, lowering your torso and moving your head to the inside. Your knee will drop and shall touch the tarmac. Without proper posture it will be difficult to get your knee down, also having too high centre of gravity (by extending your arm) will cause the bike to low sided easily.
3. Counter steer.
This is also important. To steer the bike you need to lean the bike. To lean the bike to an extreme angle, you need to understand and know how to counter steer. When entering the corner fast is just not enough to lean your body to make the bike lean. A lot of novice rider “out” from a corner when they try to lean the bike by leaning their body, and if the leaning is not enough they steer the bike like steering a car. Which will cause the bike to stands up and you’ll “out” the corner. With counter steer you will be able to lean the bike more and steer the bike properly, and with enough speed you will get your knee down.
Lastly you have to enjoy a knee down knee down should come “naturally” without you pushing or forcing the bike or your self to do so. And once you get your knee down, enjoy it. As for my self, I enjoy it very much, just one of the feat that no other form of motor sport is offering..