Most of us rarely attempt U-turns and therefore they hold a certain amount of dread if we are suddenly required to do one. But when the day comes and the pressure’s on, a perfect U will make you a god among mortals.
The degree of difficulty varies enormously with the type of bike you are piloting. A naked 125 roadster can spin on a sixpence while a heavy and long Hayabusa needs a trading estate in which to nail a really good U-turn.
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Whichever bike you ride you should aim to maximise the road width you have and use the least possible speed during the manoeuvre. But before you even consider starting to turn, always have a very, very, good look behind and ahead of you for traffic. A U-turn takes you across both lanes of traffic and you need to ensure you have more than enough time to complete the manoeuvre safely. If you are rushed, the chances of an embarrassing, and costly when it comes to replacement plastics, tip-over are greatly increased.
When performing the turn, first gear and a slipping the clutch should enable you to ride at walking pace or slower. To keep your speed down, the rear brake should be played off against the clutch for fine control, but stay off the front brake as it will be too sharp. For UK riders a U-turn will be to the right and it can help to shift body weight slightly to the left – a touch ‘above’ the bike – to prevent falling into the turn.
Consciously pick up your vision and look right round to where you want to go. Practise, too, riding with the steering on the lock stops without panicking and pushing the bike down a little to tighten the turn (and be ready to add a smidge of speed as you do so).
Don’t rush it and remember it’s better to abandon early than land in a red faced heap. We’ve all done it.
Practice doing these drills to help your U-turns
● Find a quiet place to practise, preferably without spectators
● Before you attempt a U-turn, rst practise riding slowly in a straight line
● Get used to slipping the clutch and balancing it against the rear brake
To train with Mark Edwards, visit www.rapidtraining.co.uk
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