Track Riding Quick Tip – Relax

by Jan 27, 2023


To go fast, you must be relaxed on the bike. Heard that before? Yeah, me too. The problem is, as you work to go faster on track, you tend to do the opposite. High speed, cornering and braking forces can turn you into a pretzel, your muscles tight and aching and crying enough before the end of the session. But what if you maintain that sense of ease you experience during the first lap throughout the session? Well, you can, but there’s a catch.

Time to relax

Time to relax!


First, what does it mean to relax? To relax means to minimise the tension in your muscles and joints while riding so that you can correctly control the motorcycle. Tightness and stress can lead to premature fatigue, leading to imperfect inputs into the controls.


The key to remaining relaxed lies in the lower body and abdominal area. Anchoring your lower body to the bike leaves your upper body free to control the bike rather than holding on for dear life. You can’t effectively control the bike if you use the handlebars as an anchor to hold onto the bike.

Freeing your upper body gives you fuller control over the motorcycle. Why? Where are the primary controls for braking and turning? A loose upper body allows you to finely control the throttle and steering. It is essential to separate as much as possible the need to hold on from the necessity of operating the controls deftly and smoothly.

‘Hanging onto’ the bars transfers uncontrolled inputs into the controls, diluting and countering your deliberate inputs. This puts intended and unintended control inputs into opposition, forcing you to constantly make adjustments creating a vicious cycle of feedback and adjustment. The cumulative effect is higher fatigue, ultimately leading to imprecise control inputs.

The antidote to all of this is locking into the bike.

Locking in your lower body makes it easier to do this

No hanging off the bars


To lock in, use your legs and knees to anchor yourself to the tank and pegs before you enter a corner, and then stay there. Try flapping your elbows through a turn. You should be able to do this without affecting steering or throttle, regardless of the speed you are carrying. The better you do this, the more relaxed you are.


It also helps to get low. Think about the positioning of the clip-on handlebars on a sportbike. Why are they so low? Some people think it is to torture squids, but the truth is that the manufacturer is telling you what the correct body position for fast cornering is—upper body low. Observe any professional racer. Look at their upper body position while cornering. What do you see?

By positioning your chest as close to the tank as possible while cornering, you make it easier for the lower body to lock-in. Try it. As you enter a corner, bring your chest as close to the tank and the inside of the bike as possible while anchoring your lower body. Try to kiss the handlebar weight. This frees your upper body to absorb shocks and move with bike.

Let the bike do the work. Holding on too tight transfers shocks through the body and ultimately through your arms and hands into the controls. The ever compounding stress can tire you before the end of your session. By the end of a track day, you are mentally and physically drained.

Passing in corners is risky

The professionals are doing this for a reason


Where are you looking? If you are predominately looking down and close to the front of your bike, you cannot relax. Instead, open your vision up (an entire topic unto itself) and spread it wide like a high beam light. This reduces your sense of speed, effectively giving you more time to plan and react.

Imagine riding along a road and looking down at the divider lines. They seem to pass by very quickly. But when you lift your head and vision into the middle distance, the approaching lines ‘slow down’.

Reducing the sensation of speed helps you relax, unless you are a maniac, in which case, all of this is irrelevant! But even Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner admit to being scared of the speed. Are you better than them?


Do you know where you are on track, and more importantly, where you want to be on track? If not, then you can’t fully relax. Within that wide high beam vision, you need to be able to scan for reference points to accurately pinpoint where you are relative to your reference points. That is the only way to plan for where you want to be next.

Imagine a fighter jet scanning the airspace for an enemy with its radar. It uses a wide screen to find something in the sky (head is up), and then it pinpoints specific targets within that view to attack. The pilot now knows where things are (reference points within the wider view) and can appropriately place the aircraft in the future for an effective attack.

Nailing this reduces stress levels resulting in a more relaxed rider. To be relaxed, you must know where you are and where you want to go! More on this in another post.

Where do you want to be?

Do you know where you are and where you want to be?


Now for the catch. You must turn being relaxed into a habit. And to do that, you must keep it in your consciousness throughout the riding session. The best way to do that? Ride at a slower pace than usual. You need enough spare mental capacity to keep being relaxed in front of your mind while simultaneously doing all of the other things you need to do to stay upright.

It is just about impossible to incorporate new learning when you are working at your normal speed. Slowing down to 60-70% of your usual pace and apportioning part of the newly freed mental capacity to the new skill will quicker incorporate the skill. And believe it or not, being relaxed on a bike is a skill, and you can get better at it.


Relaxing on the bike is about having the spare mental and physical capacity to apply control inputs to the motorcycle accurately and on your terms, without the physical stress of holding onto the bike interfering. The faster you want to go, the more critical this becomes.

Read the more track riding quick tips here.

Read the latest SpeedeeJ posts here.




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