How Do Motorcycles Balance?
This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see our full disclosure policy for details.
There’s a science of equilibrium behind every machine. Whether it is your skinny Harley Davidson motorcycle or any other model for that matter, you need to know how motorcycle’s balance works while riding.
Knowing this will clear your wonder of how it is possible for that massive athlete to ride on top of a skinny motorcycle traversing different cities and countries without falling off or shaking. It’ll also help you have an understanding that a motorcycle can self-balance at any meaningful speed.
Here are the preliminary facts you need to quickly learn about how you can maintain balance the next time you’re staying up on your new motorcycles. The wheels on your motorcycle operate in a similar way to that of a supermarket shopping cart. The wheels are lined up in the direction you push the motorcycle.
Normally, your motorcycle will not have a balance or stay upright when stationary for more than a few seconds. It is the force generated by the spinning of the wheels that makes the machine stay upright. The thing is: the faster the motorcycle when rolling, the more the chance for the motorcycle to maintain balance and remain in an upright manner.
You must have heard about the gyroscopic effect, that is, the kind of force created by your motorcycle’s spinning wheels that makes it hard to alter the motorcycle’ orientation. It does affect your motorcycle’s balance and stability. However, its effects on your motorcycle’s balance are often canceled out by your weight as well as your movement as you ride on.
How do Motorcycles Balance?
Typically, the angle (otherwise called rake and is located between the front fork and the vertical plane) of your motorcycle’s front fork is designed in such a way as to make your motorcycle stable, attain balance and automatically hold on course while on the move.
The rake slightly forces the front wheel contact patch to go to the rear to make the steering axis hit the ground. It is important to note that the force created by the spinning wheels doesn’t affect on your motorcycle balance.
There is a link between a motorcycle’s positive trail length and its direction. The positive trail turns in toward the way of the front wheel. This is perfect when you’re on a high speed. However, a negative trail length turns away from the direction of the front wheel. Meanwhile, a negative trail length helps when you want to maintain stability while on low speed.
Gyroscopic effect is important to maintain a straight path, especially when you’re riding in a hands-free mode. Hence, it requires less use of your arm’s force. The steering motor system allows the front wheel to veer back and forth to adjust the balance to keep it upright
The rear wheels impose the same effect on the balance and stability of your motorcycle just as your front fork. This is because the rear wheels keep the rear side of your line up in the same direction you push your motorcycle and in line with the front.
Dos and Don’ts to Maintain Motorcycle Balance
- Do not lock the rear wheel: anytime you lock the rear wheel, you’ll lose your motorcycle’s balance.
- Do not hold on too tight to the handlebars: doing this will stifle your motorcycle’s front fork from working effectively.
- Learn new corrections: working on your steering, body position, and speed will keep you stable on the motorcycle and from falling.
- Veer back and forth: making this acute adjustment will correct any learning with big shifts in direction.
- Keep your motorcycle rolling faster: the truth is that once your motorcycle is up to speed, it’s a lot easier to experience motorcycle balance. And unless a force is acted upon a moving motorcycle, a stationary motorcycle will fall off after a few seconds. Hence, try to increase the speed as you ride on.
- Apply brake: Applying your motorcycle’s front brake will slow your riding down. However, doing so creates compression on the front suspension thereby moving the weight onto the front tire. In the process, it expands its contact patch and increases its traction.
In sum, motorcycle balance operates on the mechanism of steering and direction. This is apparent when you’re riding and steer gently in the direction of keeping the motorcycle vertical. Since your motorcycle wheels are heavier relative to a motorbike, the effect of gyroscopes fades away with the conditions of the rider’s weight and movement. At any meaningful speed of your choice, keep in mind that note that a motorcycle self-balances.
- 20 Best Beginner Motorcycles
- 10 Best All-Around Motorcycles
- 15 Best Motorcycle Brands
- Different Types of Motorcycles: The Ultimate Guide