Motorcycle Handling

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Motorcycle Handling

Postby Gman » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:04 pm

There are many factors than can affect the handling of a Motorcycle even if you are a practiced rider.


Different brands can perform differently of course but more importantly are,
1:Correct tyre pressure and size.
Don't try and out-think the Bike maker.Stick to the pressures and sizes in the Manuals unless a specific tyre maker has different specifications.
I have had wider tyres on my CX500s and they perform worse,especially ay high-speed cornering,than the recommended widths.I've run at higher pressures,and they perform worse in the rain and of course under-inflated is just as bad.

2:Tyre fitment.

Motorcycles tyres usually have a rotation direction arrow and the tyre,"MUST" be fitted with this in the correct direction.This is to allow the tyre's rain clearing tread pattern to work correctly and the tyre carcass(Splicing construction) to work correctly on acceleration and deceleration.
Some tyres,like my Michelin M45 rear tyre,can be a bit confusing as the arrow points to the rear.Most point in the direction of travel.To add more confusion some tyres are none directional so can be mounted either way.Always research and check before taking for granted that your tyres have been fitted correctly.
I even had to stop a Motorcycle shop mechanic in the past as he was going to fit a tyre incorrectly :roll:


All motorcycle tyres have a thin line of rubber near the rim-seal.This will show if the tyre has been,"Bedded" correctly.If when the tyre was fitted it was not inflated enough to push the tyre evenly onto the rim these lines will be warped.It should be a perfect circle matching the outline of the rim-seal edge.


Although this may not have a major effect on corning/handling in extreme cases it can but will almost certainly give the rider more vibrations if the tyres are not balanced and this will cause faster wear on thing like Wheel bearings.

You can home balance quite easy using the Axle and the wheel between two,"Wheelie" bins and some stick-on weights.Check Youtube as there's plenty of videos and hone techniques around to save money.

Tyre Age/Condition:

Never ride with a tyre that has any cracks,bulges or damage,especially to the sidewalls.

This is a great article/resource, ... eId=735969

As for age most motorcycle tyre makers say change a tyre if over 7 years old no matter what condition it is but again you can usually find the information at the maker's site/s.


1:A warped rim/wheel will cause problems.Although it may be possible to get them straightened it's usually more cost effective and safer to get a new or 2nd hand one.

2:Worn Wheel bearings and or Steering bearings will affect handling.

3:Tired Fork springs and or fork oil/fork oil leaks(I use modern 20w Heavy fork oil as it's a vast improvement on the older ATF fluid Honda used to use).

4:Rear wheel alignment(Check on Chopper Charle's forum for the,"Swedish Trick").

5:Worn/tired shock absorbers or too soft a setting.I ride with mine quite stiff e.g as if I was taking a pillion rider.I prefer the more solid handling even though it's a little harder suspension/ride.


Don't be afraid to slack off your Handlebars when you first get the bike and sit on the motorcycle with your normal riding gear on and set the bars to suit your Body.Don't assume the bars are correct.

There may be other factors I've missed so use a search engine for more info if you are having problems.


This subject comes up from time to time and has gained an almost mythical presence.Don't worry about it.By the time the average human has hit the age of say 10 and learnt to ride a bicycle this will be an inherent skill and need not and cannot in fact be practiced.
You automatically counter-steer when taking corners/bends without thinking about it.It is more important to practice just leaning the motorcycle in bends and learning it's envelope and your abilities.

If you wish to freak yourself out and see the really weird effect of Counter-steering then do this,

On a long clear straight road with NO side roads that other vehicles can enter the road get up to around 40 Mph in 5th gear.

Firmly hold the throttle side of the handlebar so you can control the bike with one hand.

Now take your left hand off the Clutch side and control the bike.

Now push forward on the right hand throttle side very lightly.This will turn the bars to the left but wait :shock:

The bike will start go go to the right :shock:

This is the counter steering effect.Now put it to the back of your mind and never worry about it again :mrgreen:

Tyre Camber wear

This is a myth.Some people have seen uneven wear on one side of their rear tyre and assumed that it's because they ride on the Right or left hand side of the road depending on the country they live in.This is totally bogus.In the life of the tyre the rider will do as many right turns a lefts and most likely ride on all sorts of cambers.

On the CX/GL motorcycles you may see a very very slight heavier wear pattern on the right hand side of the tyre looking form the back.This is may be due to the weight of the drive box and drive shaft on that side of the bike.

I've changed my rear tyres on both my CX500s many times and there was no noticeable uneven wear on the tyres.

HTH :)
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Location: Hull.Yorkshire.UK.2x1980 CX500ZABs:Citroen ZX TD(250,000 miles)

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