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Old 06-28-2010, 09:50 AM   #1
redsavina
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Default Slow, tight turns...

This is my 3rd season on my 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M50. Its a great bike, and have had a great time on it so far. I am at about 8000 miles, and am feeling very confident except for slow, tight turns.

I have found that if I am at a stop, and I turn the wheel first, then the initial part of the turn is good, but as I increase speed, the turn transfers to a lean. I cant keep the bars turned as I accelerate past 10mph.

When I try to ride slow, at or just under 10 mph, I cannot get the bars to turn. It feels like I am fighting the bike to make a u-turn whenever I try. This is pretty frustrating.

Last week, I was on my buddies Yamaha FZ1, and we rode into a parking lot. My buddy parked (riding my bike) and I attempted a u-turn to meet up with him on his bike. I slowed down to about 8mph, slightly shifted weight to the outside peg, turned my head to look back where I wanted to go, turned the bars, and the bike u-turned on a dime!

I know bikes are different, but this just doesnt happen for me on the Suzuki M50. I was so surpirsed, I jumped on my bike, and tried the exact same thing, and it was a no-go. Its like the bike wants to get real wide in the u-turn, and wants to straighten up on its own. I cant keep the bars turned even 1/2 way in a u-turn.

I think my approach is correct, and I can do it on other bikes, but not my own. Is this strange? My buddy has been riding for many years, and said he totally notices the difference on my bike as well. I dont think its mine in particular, as he has a friend with the exact same bike, and notices it there too.

I just want the confidence to whip my bike around in a u-turn when needed. If I could do this consistently on my bike, then I would say I am an all around good rider, but I cant say that cause of this issue.

Any ideas or feedback would be great.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:50 AM   #2
sarnali2
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It's because the R1 has less rake, IE the forks are closer to vertical and the bike has a higher center of gravity. Race derivative bike have this geometry because they need to be able to corner and change direction quickly. Your bike is a cruiser IE much more rake and lower CG for looks and straight line stability, it's just not going to corner very quickly no matter what you do.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:31 AM   #3
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Good Lord, it's been three years already!?
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:39 AM   #4
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+1 on SarnaliDeuce's post, Red.

The cruiser's front end is designed to resist turning. It is thus more stable when on the road, so you are not always correcting the steering to go in a straight line.

All you can do to 'fix' it is to raise the rear end, relative to the front (or lower the front, but that is not a great idea with a bike that is fairly low-slung already); or buy a front tire with a 'pointier' profile.

Or, practice throwing the bike over to turn it. I'm pretty sure it will turn sharper than you think it will.

Practice, practice, practice!
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:45 AM   #5
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If you're trying to "turn" the bars, you're not going to get very far. Try countersteering. The bars will turn, but your inputs will cause the bike to lean, then the geometry of the front end will turn the bars. The bike needs to lean to turn, and at low speed, you'll want to counter the lean with your body (unlike at normal riding speeds). Unless you're paddling the bike around, you won't get very far just trying to turn the bike without leaning. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there with demos...
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:41 PM   #6
redsavina
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Thanks for the great responses as always.

I can understand how bikes are built differently, and its interesting how differently they can handle based on those differences.

I have noticed that, in general, people who ride more of the "race" type bikes can keep turns pretty sharp, while the cruisers take a more relaxed approach to tight turns. I guess some of this is bike design dynamics, and part is rider personality.

I am great at countersteering after I get up to about 20mph, but at like 10, where you are in parking lots, gas stations, etc... my bike is a little less forgiving. I have also scraped my peg when trying to lean at slow speeds, so I would rather actually turn the bars. It usually works out much better for 90 degree turns and such, its just the 180's that kick my butt still on my M50.

I also think I am getting to the point where I want to try different bikes, and possibly look to moving to a different setup than my M50. I love how comfortable my M50 is, however, I really prefer the slow speed handling of an upright streetfighter. The full race bikes are totally uncomfortable for me (im 6'2" and 290lbs) and I get leg cramps just sitting on them on the show floor. I prefer the feeling of my feet under me, instead of out in front of me. It just feels more stable with a greater level of control. I also wouldnt mind a windshield, and a little more power in the throttle (although the Fz1 is totally overkill for my 25 mile commute to work, lol).
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:55 AM   #7
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As others have said, the difference between the two bikes is cruiser v. sports bike.

Quote:
I have found that if I am at a stop, and I turn the wheel first, then the initial part of the turn is good, but as I increase speed, the turn transfers to a lean. I cant keep the bars turned as I accelerate past 10mph.

When I try to ride slow, at or just under 10 mph, I cannot get the bars to turn. It feels like I am fighting the bike to make a u-turn whenever I try. This is pretty frustrating.
I have a C50 and find U-turns to be a little tough too, though if I go slow enough I can do it. For tight and slow turns that aren't U-turns it does fine. Just remember to counter-weight. I basically find myself pushing the bike into a lean with my hands on the handlebar while simultaneously pushing my weight the other direction and it works OK.

Under or over 10mph I find turning to be no problem. Like you, I do find the bike to be a bit challenging around 10-15mph in turns (probably about where it is transitioning from slow speed turning to where it wants to turn by countersteering). So, my best advice is to do your parking lot and other slow turns a little faster or a little slower to avoid this window (and when slow, very deliberately push your weight away from your turn and your bike the direction of your turn).

Quote:
I also think I am getting to the point where I want to try different bikes, and possibly look to moving to a different setup than my M50. I love how comfortable my M50 is, however, I really prefer the slow speed handling of an upright streetfighter. The full race bikes are totally uncomfortable for me (im 6'2" and 290lbs) and I get leg cramps just sitting on them on the show floor. I prefer the feeling of my feet under me, instead of out in front of me. It just feels more stable with a greater level of control. I also wouldnt mind a windshield, and a little more power in the throttle (although the Fz1 is totally overkill for my 25 mile commute to work, lol).
If it was your first bike and you've been riding 3 years now it seems logical to me that your tastes may have changed, or you have refined your ideas of what you want out of a bike with some experience. If you aren't really happy with your bike, it may be time to replace it.

From what you are saying, it sounds to me like a standard, something like the Suzuki SV650 which seems to me to be a cross between a sports bike and a standard, or even a more aggressive style cruiser (like those made by Triumph) may be more to your liking. Heck, if you basically like the cruiser style, but want a more standard foot position, check out the HD Sportsters and Dynas- several models have the standard foot position putting the pegs just below you or no more than slightly ahead of you instead of a more normal cruiser positioning with them stretched out in front.
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