The Crucial Aspects of Body Position While Riding a Motorcycle

I recently watched a YouTube video of a motorcyclist navigating a corner of the road. The question posed was: why did the rider crash?

Over 100 responses flooded the comments section, with a large percentage attributing the crash to the rider’s body position. For a trained rider, the real reason was clear: the rider leaned the bike, began to apply the throttle, and then continued to lean more while adding more throttle. This is a simple recipe for a crash. We call it “adding throttle and lean.” The rider’s position was mostly neutral—not hanging off but not leaning back either.

There seems to be an obsession with body position that dominates the attention of many novice riders. It’s not hard to imagine why. It’s the most visible aspect and rather fascinating, especially if it involves a high-level MotoGP rider. For beginners in the sportbike arena, many confuse “good body position” with “hanging off a lot.” Why? Because Marc Márquez does it, and he’s incredibly fast, duh!

But where does body position rank in the hierarchy of essential riding skills? Before we can evaluate it, we need a clear statement of the goal of body positioning. This statement should apply to any bike, rider, and riding style.

The Starting Point: The Goal of Body Position

Keith Code states: “The goal of body positioning is: harmony with the bike, freedom of movement on it, precision control over it, with the minimum effort required.”

There are numerous variables that influence good body positioning. Often overlooked is how well your riding gear fits. Some gear is comfortable in a neutral position but hinders a rider from hanging off. A rider’s stature in relation to the bike, the type of bike, injuries, aches, and limited movement are other obstacles. With these and other variables, it’s always helpful to bring things back to basics: does your body position put you in harmony with the bike, with freedom of movement, precision control, and minimum effort?

Today’s riders often seek a silver bullet: a pill, a tip, that video, that Rossi quote, that will make them better. At our school, we have compiled a list of 58 different elements for body positioning. When all 58 are executed correctly, it appears to be the best possible. The problem is most riders are doing more than half of the list correctly, but which ones are unique and individual. This is where a good mentor, coach, or a pair of trained eyes can cut through a lot of the fog. Simply emulating a high-level rider might not always be the ticket to the first step toward improving a rider.

Returning to the question I posed earlier: where does body positioning fall in the hierarchy of essential riding skills? A difficult question to answer due to the variables. However, if we start with a rider in a neutral position, I would say the following elements should be good before trying to model a rider in a MotoGP position: when to open/close the throttle in a corner, how to apply/release the brakes, how to steer efficiently/precisely, how to choose a cornering line, where and when to look in a corner, and when to relax the arms.

So, What’s My Point?

There are key basics that many overlook which, if not resolved, permanently hinder any real or lasting improvement. Don’t get me wrong, hanging off can provide huge benefits, especially on a sportbike on a track, and at our school, we dedicate a considerable percentage of our time and effort to body position. For some, hanging off can be a complete game-changer. But it’s a “first things first” scenario. For example, can the rider consistently hit an apex? If not, fix that before moving on.

This is where the Dunning-Kruger effect comes into play: it’s a cognitive bias where people with low ability in a task overestimate their abilities. Telling a rider they need to refine basics like line, brakes, or throttle can be met with irritation or even resentment. It usually takes a gray-bearded veteran, on a sport-touring bike, sitting upright, blowing past a fully kitted-out beginner on the latest exotic machinery before they stop to consider that something might be missing in the basics department.

In any case, when considering your body position, keep in mind the key elements that really matter: harmony, freedom of movement, precision control, and minimum effort required.


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The Crucial Aspects of Body Position While Riding a Motorcycle


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