Sylvain Guintoli explains the fine points of this famous stance.
Chances are excellent that if you watch MotoGP for even a little while, you’ll see riders stick a leg out while braking. You might also notice that it’s always the inside leg based on which way they’re leaning their bike. Why do they do this? Watch Sylvain Guintoli explain it all in this helpful video.
Motorcycle racing is a physically demanding sport. The higher up the competition ladder you go, the more demands are placed on the body of a racer. G-forces under braking are incredibly strong, and as Guintoli explains, racers shift their bodies this way to make their braking more efficient. In turn, that also lessens the pressures exerted on their bodies.
Guintoli succinctly describes the action of dangling that foot as deploying an ‘air anchor.’ It’s not just about the foot; it’s also about the weight shift. Your leg all the way up through your thigh is a significant amount of weight. By dangling a leg and lowering your center of gravity, while also shifting it backward away from the front of the bike, you’re helping to plant the bike a bit better and increase stability under braking.
At the same time, you’re also taking some of the pressure off your arms and wrists, which bear the brunt of those G-forces under hard braking. MotoGP racers go incredibly fast, and also brake incredibly hard. Both their machines and their training make these things possible, but it’s still a huge demand on any human’s body.
As Guintoli explains, any gains experienced with the leg dangle are incremental at best. Still, MotoGP-level racers are always looking to squeeze every fraction of a second out of their lap times. All those fractions of a second eventually add up to whole seconds, after all. Find enough of those, and you find a significant advantage over your competition.
Finally, he cautions that if you’re thinking of trying this at a track day, it probably won’t do a lot to help you unless you’re going for a track record and are moving with incredible speed. Trying this maneuver while rolling around out on your local roads won’t make a lot of difference, because you’ll neither be going fast enough (we hope, naughty) nor braking hard enough for this maneuver to make a difference.
Still and all, it’s a pretty fascinating look into all the little tricks that top-tier racers use during their races. Thanks, Sylvain!