Learning a knee down

Submitted by Jo on Sun, 10/03/2021 - 00:18

Knee down stands for riding a motorcycle in which a knee touches the ground when cornering.
This riding style is useful, in most cases for motorcycle racers, to increase cornering speed by in the same time try to get them motorcycle still as vertical als possible.
By doing this, you maximize the grip during cornering as there is a bigger part of the motorcycle tyre touching the asfalt. MotoGP riders are going to the extreme and are using this  technique to feel what is their lean angle, even using their elbows, and in certain cases even push the bike back upride when the bike is falling down.
When looking at other riders performing a knee down, you would think that scraping your knee against the asfalt is just a matter of sticking out your knee and it will automatically touch the asfalt.
Nothing could be further from the thue, there are a lot of things that need to be done right to perform a good knee down. And it is not something you can perform in every corner you take on the road.
That is why I subscribed to a knee down training given by the instructors at ClubMot. A training not commonly teached by rider schools, so a perfect opportunity to further broaden my skill set.

The training grounds was a parking area in the industrial area at Erembodegem, near Aalst. Instructor Tom was finishing up with the morning group as I arrived. Yes, I looked a bit silly wearing a full leather racing suit on my allroad Transalp - but - that never bothered me before.
I was taking this session with two other colleague motorcyclists, both good and down to earth guys. First the basics were discussed, why do we knee down, what are the important steps of taking a turn.
Offcourse looking into the direction of taking a turn is the most important once, but also the most overlooked. Secondly, a good seating position on the bike is essential for cornering with a knee down.
So after showing how it's done Tom urged us onto the test bike, fitted with special wheels, wheels which would come in handy. These additional wheels ensure that the rider is not harmed when leaning the bike too far over, also helping with damage control on the rider's ego.

First outing with the bike is to familiarize yourself with the setup and the feeling of the Suzuki SV650x with the additional wheels. The little twin cylinder bike is perfect for these low speed
maneuvers, although I found the seating position very cramped, as you need to slide your bum completely to the back of the seat to lower your torso towards the tank. For me this meant almost sliding on the pillans seat to make room for my (big) belly.
Riding circles, an 8 pattern or just ovals are enough in the first sessions, and we are coached on our cornering techniques, and other obvious shortcomings by Tom. If every student had their first outing, Tom is convinced all of us will be performing a knee down by the end of the day.

The Second session is dedicated to moving the body in parallel with the wheel-axe of the bike and putting the knee already a bit closer to the asfalt. Keeping a constant throttle, making large corners, and looking the correct way are really important.

Third session we are asked to exaggerate our seating position on the bike, this to already feel how a knee down feels and what to expect. Tom is very professional and is just pushing us in the correct manner without it becoming dangerous or obliged. Still he is shouting fair feedback your way.

Fourth session was the lucky charm for me, both knee patches on my suit kissed the asfalt before the wheels did. The other class members performed the same, you can't put into words their faces when they touched the ground, ecstatic comes close.

Fifth and last session is a confirmation on what you have learned in this short period of time. Also fatigue is kicking in, cramps in muscles I didn't know existed were hurting. The fact that I could parade with a scuffed up knee slider did relieve the pain a bit.

After our half-a-day learning session, everybody agreed that this class should be followed by all riders who wish to ride sporty on the road and will pay dividends on the track.
Not only making your fast but more in control of the situation. The only thing that is allowed to scrape on the floor are your sliders, no foot pegs or other parts of the motorcycle.
If you are one of those people or you simply want to learn a new technique with minimal risk, don't hesitate and give the boys and girls of Clubmot a call and subscribe for the knee down training.

Good chance that I will be participating in this session again next year, just to refresh my mind before heading out to organized track days.