The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

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The Modern Riding Position

Blog Date - 23 April 2012

I've been to test ride a couple of bikes recently and there's one thing that has struck me.  The different way you are positioned on the bike, the way you sit.  My Fazer 600 is a 2001 bike and, much to my surprise, is now 11 years old.  I personally don't see it as an old bike, until I ride a modern bike.  

I used to own an SLR 650 and I still regularly ride a CLR 125.  Both these bikes are off road styled.  The one thing about the off road style is that the rider is pushed way forwards.  Compared to the Fazer and my earlier NTV 600 where you sit way behind the motor, low down, just in front of the rear wheel, in the off road style you almost sit on top of the motor and up close to the handlebars.  This is achieved with a short stubby tank.  Off roaders have typically small tanks that allow this, road bikes have a larger tank that forces the rider further back.

I am NO EXPERT...but I assume the forwards riding position is better for off roading.  I assume it allows the rider to feel what the front wheel is doing better and to keep the weight over the front wheel.  I know from experience that if you loose the front end you're done for, but if you loose the rear that can be scary but it can be saved.  When you see the Paris-Daker riders blasting across some far-flung desert the rear end is waving around but the front tracking straight.  

When you get on a modern bike, such as the NC700X and the Diversion I tested recently, I notice the tanks are shorter and stubbier.  The rider is pushed further forwards and you sit on top of the bike rather than in it like the earlier bikes.  I even sat on an R6 the other day and although the bars are down low I still felt quite far forwards.  I can only assume this is for exactly the same reasons.  If you can keep the front end under control, the rear should follow.

There appear to be a couple of downsides.  To get the same amount of fuel in the tank needs to be deeper, wider or taller.  It also seem that as the rider is almost above the motor the seat height is taller.  If you're a shorter rider then it seems your options are reducing in the name of handling.  I'm also curious how well the modern bikes will handle the excess of luggage I carry, especially when camping.  If the bike's been engineered for the rider over the front, will it upset the handling when I've got the gf and two tons of camping gear on the back?  

Anyhow, in the interest of illustration I have created, at no expense, an animated image below to very poorly demonstrate what I mean.  Number 1 is the "old" position, 2 is the new. 

Now, if any of you are better with graphics I'd more than welcome a nice, smart, professional looking gif... (



an animated image showing 2 different riding positions using stick men

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