Traction is one of those words that gets flown around insurance
brokers offices such as AQuote Insurance
, but the principles of traction
and its effects are not as well understood as you might expect. Without good
traction you can have as much power as you please but you won’t be able to
apply any of it to the road or turn it into acceleration. Understanding
traction will help you ride better and to corner better, so here’s our
definitive guide to the principles of traction.
Traction is about friction, normally thought to be a bad thing but
actually this friction force is what creates grip between your tyres and the
road, keeping you upright. This force acts tangentially to your tyres (i.e. at
right angles to the road surface) but this varies depending on the lean of your
Your traction has a finite limit and if your bike demands more than
this in, say, a heavy braking incident or a slippery corner, you may give way
and end up slipping.
On the start line or at the lights, you will only be using traction
for one thing: going forward. The drive from your rear wheel acts against the
road and this force, as you’ll remember from your secondary school physics
lessons, must create an opposite force! As a result, you end up going forward.
The reverse is, literally, true when you’re braking. Brakes act as a
reaction to your forward power and, in turn, use up a bit of your traction
limit. Turning is the final demand on traction and you must imagine, for
example, pushing a boat forwards and left at the same time. It all uses up your
Gauging your Traction
Race riders know and use their traction limits to their advantage.
Spreading your traction uses (braking, turning and accelerating) efficiently
can help you get through corners not only faster but much safer. The difficulty
is that this changes depending on the conditions. A new set of tyres, a rainy
day or even a scorching hot Spanish autovia
will all perform differently.
Racers spend a lot of time working with traction limits as
racetracks and sports bikes usually perform consistently. With the sort of data
available to MotoGP riders it’s possible to make a split-second decision on a
corner. For the rest of us, however, the most important thing is staying
upright and cornering well within the limits of our tyres.
There’s a difference between understanding and properly using your
traction and the only way to really get to grips with it is practice. Remember
that your bike will perform very differently in different conditions so don’t
assume you can take a wet corner at the same speed as a dry corner; it won’t
Labels: Insurance, Safety, Vendors