Motorcycling is a fun sport that promises a sense of freedom and relaxation every time you hit the road with your bike. However, your riding experience depends on many external factors one of which is the road type. The quality of experience varies not just according to the condition of the road but also the way it has been built. Engineers and designers put a good thought on how the road is to be built depending on the terrain of the area. As a rider, you should know how to ride on such different types of roads. That’s what we’ll discuss today, types of roads and how they influence your riding. Learning about the different motorcycle road types can be advantageous and increase the efficiency of your ride along with making you a better rider.
Most of the examples covered in this guide are from race ‘tracks’ perspective but these road types are encountered off the track as well. You would have encountered the below road types already by now and today we’ll get into the technical bit of them. Idea is that once you get well versed with the road dynamics, you are always making correct decisions on how to go ride on them.
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Learn About the Various Motorcycle Road Types
It is worthwhile to know about motorcycle road types to accustom yourself with the road that you envisage upon. Knowing the types can set aside the important aspects from the unimportant ones and improve your riding techniques. There is a reason why some parts of the road are simpler to traverse than the others.
We all have noticed how highways are a pleasure to ride on with no difficulty associated. They have been constructed in a way that allows motorists to traverse distances without breaking bones. The designers employ sufficient reasoning to ensure safety.
The racetrack, on the other hand, is designed with an entirely opposite ideology. Convenience is the last factor to be considered while zeroing on the design and construction of the track. The designers employ utmost care in designing a track that purposely fools the rider and creates challenging situations to test their riding techniques. A track that ensures a course of changing dynamics for the rider accomplishes this purpose.
The most difficult sections are where you encounter hairpins, generally following the straight patches or S turns. The corners ensure to interrupt your flow and momentum in unsuspected situations through various changes in camber and radius. The difficulty increases as the turns are dodged faster.
Motorcycle road types differ from each other based on following five major changes.
1. Change in camber
The road can be constructed using a positive or negative camber. This refers to the construction in a way that either the inside is at a higher level than the outside or the road can be absolutely flat. The design of the turn may involve one or more camber turns.
2. Change in radius
Turns may be designed in a manner that may cause the radius to increase, decrease or stay constant. Or a combination of all three may also be employed. Increasing radius refers to a turn that opens up towards the end and decreasing radius indicates tightening towards the end. A constant radius defines a turn in shape of a perfect half circle.
3. More than one turn in a go
Turns dependent of each other, placed in continuation put forth the decision of the point of exit based on the course taken upon the entry. The camber and radius changes may be an application in the series of turns.
4. Change in elevation
A track is changed by making it uphill, downhill or crested. The addition of elevation and various points or turns causes the changes.
5. Straight segments
There are various sections on the road that require minimum or no turns. Changes in elevation may be incorporated in these segments.
All possible road situations arise due to above types except the bumpy parts which aren’t a part of the design plan. It is important to understand the motorcycle road types to learn motorcycling. How the bike will go through the corner depends greatly on each of these changes. To master riding techniques it is important to understand the effects of each change and learning to handle them.
What is the Impact of Each of the Changes?
Positive Camber or Banking
A section of road with positive camber or banking is one of the most comfortable motorcycle road types to ride for everyone. This is made possible due to the following effects of road banking:
- It helps to hold you intact by creating a wall that you can push with your tires and go ahead.
- The turn entry also becomes slow due to road banking because the resistance by this wall increases.
- Banking harnesses the power of gravity to work in your favor by pulling the rider and bike down the wall and counterbalancing the other outward moving cornering forces
It is easy to learn motorcycling, if you understand the below characteristics of banked turns:
- It is not possible to enter low and exit high
- Banking is deceptive due to the absence of straight view of the road as you are leaning
- It is good to go low i.e., towards the inner portion of the track where the flattening of banking begins in order to achieve maximum holding advantage
- While exiting a banked section you should bring the bike to a straight position as it will drag easily after the end of banking.
You can go into a banked turn faster than it may seem, through experience you can use this to your advantage. Banking fools you into going in slow, but you can correct your speed knowing a banked turn.
Knowledge of these characteristics and putting them to the application while riding will ensure proper riding techniques.
Riders mostly are demotivated by off-camber turns as they leave the minimum scope of error. It is difficult to face a turn that is a combination of a bank at the beginning and off-camber towards the end as it can be tackled by making adjustments in smaller angles. It can be traversed successfully by leaning off the bike more.
The following are characteristics of Off-Camber turns:
- The effect of gravity pulls the bike towards the outside
- It leads to loss of traction and you may fall or skid off if not careful
You must focus on straight lines on the track so that you do not have a maximum lean angle when going into an off-camber section.
There is an alternative way of dealing with it, and it involves straightening out towards the starting and keeping your maximum lean angle for the middle of the off camber part of the road. It can be dealt well by entering in a position that is vertically erect and exiting in a straight position after a major change of steering in the middle.
This turn deceives the rider because by the initial look it appears a basic turn and sudden change in camber affects the rider and his strategy. It is important for the rider to realize that the bike is being pulled in a direction opposite to what he intends and the bike may go dramatically towards the outside of the off-camber turn.
The turns that have neither positive nor negative road camber are termed flat turns. In such turns, there is no increase or decrease in the angle of leaning to make for constant radius or constant speed. The increase in speed leads to the widening of the cornering arc due to the centrifugal force generated by your bike. You must change the line with increasing speed.
The best way to master riding technique at such turns are taking the shortest way around it, and that can be achieved by riding in a straight line. It is considered as a preferred method by most experienced riders. There is no deception in such kind of turns unless the radius changes. Riders can continue at the maximum speed and lean angle for the longest duration at these turns. It is alright to enter into flat turns with maximum speed and leaning angle right from the start as a wide entry will only allow other riders to surpass you.
Changes in Radius
One of the methods that track designers use to add a twist to the tracks is changing the radius of the turns. Below are the basic changes in radius and ways to learn motorcycling.
Constant Radius (CR) Turns
A turn that neither widens nor narrows as you surpass it, is a turn of constant radius. Below are some characteristics:
- A long CR turn without camber changes is mostly traversed by being on the inside for the maximum part of the turn.
- A short hairpin, on the other hand, requires another way of entry and exit and a tight hairpin calls for an abrupt turning.
- A CR turn with camber changes will mostly act as a turn with increasing or decreasing radius.
Decreasing-Radius (DR) Turns:
A DR turn reduces in radius or tightens as you ride along. The trick of the designer here is to fool you by giving an illusion of a constant road radius turn. If you are fooled, you end up doing any of the following:
- Exit wide
- Lean the bike more towards the end of the turn
- Reduce speed to avoid the first two
A DR turn has two apexes, and you must traverse both of them. Any attempt to escape one may backfire. You can make riding along a DR turn easier by entering wide, this way you keep speed constant and avoid sharp steering changes.
Increasing-Radius (IR) Turns:
The severity of the IR turns decreases as one surpasses it due to the increase in the radius. It is one of the safest turns as there is enough scope for changes towards the end. The camber of the road can change the IR turn just as it can change the DR turn. It is vital to remember that in most motorcycle road types, the radius of the turn is secondary to the camber of the road.
More Than One Turn in a Go
In order to slow down your run, two or more turns are designed in succession in such a way that they affect each other. It is wise to slow down when you encounter a series in order to maintain your run.
Uphill, Downhill and Crested Turns
Change in elevation of a road surface poses an interesting dynamic to the way it can be ridden on. Changes in elevation aren’t very tricky unless employed in combination with camber or radius change, or both. The difficulties usually pop up in the case of an immediate crest followed by a downhill. Due to the lessened traction, the bike undergoes when going down over a crested hill, turns that contains any sort of rise in the middle can get tricky. To ride down over a crested road, keep the bike as vertical as you can.
When going uphill, braking or slowing is a lot easier due to the fact that gravity is pulling you backward. You have more control over the bike and easier braking as compared to going downhill. Another problem with uphill, crested or downhill, is that the bike can wheelie over them. This makes turning to be quite challenging.
As a rider, you may lose energy from all these complicated turns, but straight patches give you a chance to regain it and relax for they pose no changes to interrupt you. You can use these patches to see if your breathing is regular. Most riders hold their breath on strenuous turns, make sure you get enough oxygen to prevent cramping.
Race tracks are designed specifically to pose problems to put your riding technique to the test. Whether a public road or a racetrack, both are made up of camber, elevation, radius, series of turns and straight patches. Now that you know the road types and got the right knowledge of all these dynamics, this will help you ace your riding, control your speed and improve your overall safety.
Let us know if this basic motorcycle road types guide benefits you in any way! Do contribute your thoughts and experience on this topic below.
Now that you know the types of road, why don’t you try something different by Planning Your First Motorcycle Tour!