Perfecting Motorcycle Riding – U-turns

Ashley had already ridden a BMW motorcycle from Connecticut to California. She was a small woman on a heavy bike but she handled the machine well until she dropped her bike doing a low speed u-turn and couldn't get the bike upright again. While she had plenty of riding experience, she hadn't developed her low speed handling skills like doing a u-turn.

Find an empty parking lot without much debris and practice feathering the clutch. You need to get a feel for when the clutch is and isn't engaging the engine. Start with the bike idling on a level surface, pull the clutch in and put the bike in gear. Without touching the throttle, ease out the clutch until the bike is operating under it's own power. If you ease the clutch out slowly enough the bike will continue forward without stalling the engine and you will learn at what point the clutch is engaging the engine. Repeat this exercise ten times or until you get a hang of easing out the clutch slowly. Now, mount the bike and proceed to ride a large circle. Body positioning is extremely important at low speeds so slide your butt to the outside of the seat, in the opposite direction of the turn, and look over your shoulder at the road behind you.

Accelerating through the turn will keep the bike moving forward while looking over your shoulder will steer the bike in your desired path of travel. Repeat this exercise while making progressively smaller circles. As your circles get smaller and smaller you will need to stand up off the seat more and shift your weight to the farthest edge of the peg outside the turn. When you feel comfortable with your body positioning begin practicing a low speed u-turn. Approach the u-turn at 10 mph, keeping the handlebars light in your hands, initiate the turn with the ball of your foot on the inside foot peg. Look over your inside shoulder and shift your weight to the outside foot peg. The bike will feel more stable the faster the engine is spinning for try accelerating through the turn and applying the rear brake at the same time or feather the clutch to limit how much power is being transmitted to the wheels. U-turns are a learned skill so practice doing a u-turn in a parking lot or empty street once a week. Because, at the end of the day, it's more fun working on your riding skills then it is your repair skills.
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