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david_yancey said:
The uncultured way:

After owning the bike 3 months and with a group of friends, find the most moss covered narrow road to get lost on between Monroe and Arlington, Washington. Decide to make the u-turn in front of the group by going too slow, tapping the front brake, begin to nose down and then panic by wrapping the throttle and kicking the bike 45° more than intended sending it more sideways than straight to hit a non-moss covered patch of asphalt to send you rocketing forward straight down the correct lane with a "devil-may-care" control.

Brag to friends that it all in the superb handling and find an AM-PM to regain composure while everyone else is getting gas.

The cultured way: What everybody else said.
That was awesome. Sounds like something I would do.
 

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I have one item to add.

I move up in the seat so I can reach the steering lock which ever direction I go. Otherwise, slow, slip clutch, look over shoulder and eyes up and looking out. Sometimes I will use the back brake, it depends on speed.

Practice, practice, practice.
It is easy in the parking lot but is a lot harder when the wife is on the back, everyone is looking and you are on a very narrow road with deep ditches on either side.
 

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A U turn is one thing....but with wifey on the back....it's a whole new ball game. She moves around like a 16 year old cheerleader!

After doing U turns with her on the back, when she's off the bike, it's a real piece of cake!

So....just practice with someone on the pillion seat, you'll find it much easer to accomplish this U turn feat with just you on board!

Kinda like practicing basketball with ankle weights. Once you remove them, you feel like a Michael Jordan.
 

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Warden Ross, you need to train her to sit still mate. It took me some time to achieve that little milestone when I had my K100, but after she too shared in the pain of a slow speed tip off (bruised knee etc) she conformed. Dropping a k100 in a U turn is one thing,..... dropping the K12, I hope never. I asked mine to reserve her "cheerleader" type behaviour for "other times".
 

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I find it interesting to read so much about a relatively simple subject. Some of you are making this way more complicated and confusing than it should be. Let me be so bold as to clarify a couple of items which may in turn help some out. You DO NOT have to move around in the seat to make a tight, slow turn. You MUST get as close to the gas tank as you possibly can if you want to really get good at this. Riding "on the tank" helps the rider avoid streching way out to reach the handlebar controls. It also keeps the rider from dipping his/her shoulders into the turn. You should keep your body as vertical as possible, don't lean into or out of the turn. Turn your head and eyes in the direction of the turn, but only as far as your elbow. Balance comes from your head and eyes so make sure to keep them level with the horizon and looking towards the turn. At slow speed power to the rear wheel comes from the clutch, NOT engine speed or rpm. A high or low ratio first gear means nothing in this venture. If the bike can move itself from a dead stop it can make a slow, tight turn. 1200 to 1500 rpm's is what you are after...the lower the better. Some motors have dry clutches and some have wet clutches. Wet clutches tend to take slipping much better than dry ones, hence Harleys and the like will take more abuse (slipping) as long as you keep them adjusted. You can FEATHER the rear brake in a tight turn, but don't "ride" the brake. Doing so wears brakes and clutches out very fast and makes it much more difficult to complete the turn. Really good riders use very little to no rear brake in a tight turn unless they absolutely need it! Remember, you are trying to gracefully make a nice slow, tight turn and look good doing so. You are not trying to beat the bike into submission which usually results in the bike winning!

COMMIT TO THE TURN in other words tell yourself you CAN make the turn! If you hesitate making the turn you won't make it. Many people get halfway through a turn and panic because they think they can't make it. This almost always results in their pulling the clutch lever in and dropping the bike. No grey area = no power. No power= no turn. Simple hey? Use ALL the room you can making the turn! Don't short change yourself on front wheel placement and don't make an oval out of a circle! Practice making "tear drop" turns. When you begin the actual turn DON"T go to full lock! After you get half the turn completed then you can go full lock, but only if needed. By not going full lock you save a little steering imput in reserve if you find out you need more steering. Remember, power to the rear wheel will help pull you thru and out of the turn. If you need to buy yourself a little time then feather the rear brake a bit, but don't bear down on it....you want to use the brake to slow things down a bit, not stop the bike. Don't pull your grips to make the turn, use your palms to push the grip into the turn. Doing this helps avoid changing clutch engagement and throttle position.

When I owned my 2005 LT I quickly discovered that I could apply a small amount of rear brake pedal movement and engage rear brake only. If I pressed the rear brake pedal too much I would apply front brake which is the kiss of death in a slow tight turn. Applying front brake in a tight turn will take you straight to the ground.....guaranteed! Lastly, one reason why Harley Davidson touring bikes perform exceptionally well at parking lot speed is due to the location of the fork legs. These legs are BEHIND the steering stem and this greatly assists in slow speed turning control. I hope this information helps some of you but remember, if you can make a 20' turn with confidence you can make a u-turn almost anywhere and look like a pro doing it. Some people like to push the envelope and try to make smaller turns when they really don't need to. This usually results in a damaged bike or worse yet a damaged rider. Which reminds me, keep your feet of the boards/pegs. It doesn't feeel very good when you run your own ankle over...I know from personal experience!!! Oh yeah.....C.D.I.
Rick
 

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I agree with the previous poster that this is becoming way too difficult.

Here is my take on the subject.

Measure the width of the street in front of your house. Probably 20' or more. This is probably the minimum diameter turn you will ever have to make unless you fall prey to a self inflicted poor parking plan. Work on this parking plan issue separately from your 20' diameter turn.

Start practicing in a large parking lot with a 30' diameter turn marked off with tennis balls cut in half. Practice turns to the left and to the right until it's easy for ya.

Decrease the diameter of the circle by 1' to 2' until you get to a 20' diameter turn. This is good enough. Now go and ride in peace. You have mastered the u-turn.

If you have to make a u-turn tighter than you are comfortable with just take the opportunity to show off your fancy reverse gear.

Would ya rather drop the pig with your espoused unit on board in front of your sniggering friends or would you rather just use reverse? Good choice!

As far as technique? Just look to where you want to finish up and you will find yourself at that point at the finish of the turn. Look down and you will crash! Look at the dog which has decided to bark at you and chase you while you are going so slow and you will fall. Ignore the idiot dog. If you run over it with the LT rest comfortably knowing that the dogs' motorcycle chasing days have just ended due to no fault of your own.

If it is more comfortable for you start with a 40' diameter or even a 50' or 60' diameter circle just do it! You will quickly get the hang of it.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It frustrates you and it annoys the pig.

The LT will NEVER be the u-turn queen. Forget about wasting your time trying to learn how to make a u-turn on your sidewalk. Get your skills to where you can make the 20' turn and then go ride the bejeebers out of the bike in the twisties! This is truly where the LT shines and where your time will be better spent!

Good night,

Loren
 

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I took the "Ride Like a Pro" class about 6 months ago and really did learn a lot. I still highly recommend it. I was able, with a little practice, to make the U turns with the K1200LT ( even using a very light touch of the rear brake) but as Loren said, the K1200LT really shines at the higher speeds. My 02 had linked brakes and if you touch the rear brake a little too hard, the front engages and it is not pretty.

As part of the class, maybe the last 30 minutes, we went over some higher speed maneuvering and that is where I left the HD's in the dust ! They were able to maneuver through the low speed turns a little tighter, but when it was time to accelerate through the cones, twist and turn, lean and have fun, the K1200LT really shined.
 

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JoeTerry said:
To make a tighter circle at slow speeds, you need to keep your weight to the outside so you can lean the bike more. This creates a decrease in rake angle and the bike will turn tighter. To practice, go to a vacant parking lot and try turning a comfortable tight circle keeping your weight to the inside, then to the outside. The difference can be significant.

If you have a second motorcycle that is lighter than the LT, that is the way to practice. I enjoy taking my DRZ400s out and practicing slow speed maneuvers. The LT is heavy and is less forgiving to practice at extremely slow speeds. I get tired fairly quickly when practicing on the LT, but I can tell that after practicing, my slow speed skills are better.

My suggestions when practicing slow speed maneuvers: Practice using the clutch a lot and only the rear brake. Smooth is key, so start big and comfortable and work your way to the tight stuff. Before long you're doing full lock circles and figure eights.
That is an excellent point. I've been riding bikes for 40 years not knowing this simple technique until I took an offroad class two years ago. They showed me how to turn a top heavy bike on a dirt by shifting your weight on the footpeg on the opposite side (turning left - weight on right)
It works like a magic on dirt (on my X-Challenge) as well as with my LT on tight corners or U-turns on a paved road.
It takes some practice though - you need to condition your brain to something that is not very obvious, or contrary to a common sense.
BJ
 

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BJ,

That sounds interesting because if there was one thing that makes me pucker and that is either dirt or sand on the road. You are saying that you can do a U Turn in the dirt on the LT?

I'd love to see a video of what you are talking about, Ref: " keep your weight to the outside so you can lean the bike more"

Maybe there is a clip on U Tube showing this technique. Sounds quite different for what I do.
 

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When our local BMW club had the MFS ERC event (customized for our BMW club) we were shown how to sit, where your, head, shoulders, elbows had to be to do the slow speed maneuvering. Under 10 mph its a different technique. I would highly recommend whatever the equivalent course to that would be. We only had one LT dropped, and no it wasn't mine. ;)
 

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Wow! I thought I was doing it correct until I read all this. I think if you make a tight turn on an LT and end up in the wheels and not the engine guards you did it correctly.
 

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Re: How to make a tight u-turn EASY

It's all about center of gravity and shifting your weight. You have felt how easy it is at highway speed to change lanes by moving your shoulders left or right. The bike responds instantly and its a great feeling. At low speed things change to make this turn smoothly pull your body forward (like the handle bars are a dumbbell. Now lean in the direction you wish to turn! Try this in a empty parking lot , you will soon master this low speed turning technique. Its easy and fun. I first learned it when riding dirt bikes.
 

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Ric said:
I find it interesting to read so much about a relatively simple subject. Some of you are making this way more complicated and confusing than it should be. Let me be so bold as to clarify a couple of items which may in turn help some out. You DO NOT have to move around in the seat to make a tight, slow turn. You MUST get as close to the gas tank as you possibly can if you want to really get good at this. Riding "on the tank" helps the rider avoid streching way out to reach the handlebar controls. It also keeps the rider from dipping his/her shoulders into the turn. You should keep your body as vertical as possible, don't lean into or out of the turn. Turn your head and eyes in the direction of the turn, but only as far as your elbow. Balance comes from your head and eyes so make sure to keep them level with the horizon and looking towards the turn. At slow speed power to the rear wheel comes from the clutch, NOT engine speed or rpm. A high or low ratio first gear means nothing in this venture. If the bike can move itself from a dead stop it can make a slow, tight turn. 1200 to 1500 rpm's is what you are after...the lower the better. Some motors have dry clutches and some have wet clutches. Wet clutches tend to take slipping much better than dry ones, hence Harleys and the like will take more abuse (slipping) as long as you keep them adjusted. You can FEATHER the rear brake in a tight turn, but don't "ride" the brake. Doing so wears brakes and clutches out very fast and makes it much more difficult to complete the turn. Really good riders use very little to no rear brake in a tight turn unless they absolutely need it! Remember, you are trying to gracefully make a nice slow, tight turn and look good doing so. You are not trying to beat the bike into submission which usually results in the bike winning!

COMMIT TO THE TURN in other words tell yourself you CAN make the turn! If you hesitate making the turn you won't make it. Many people get halfway through a turn and panic because they think they can't make it. This almost always results in their pulling the clutch lever in and dropping the bike. No grey area = no power. No power= no turn. Simple hey? Use ALL the room you can making the turn! Don't short change yourself on front wheel placement and don't make an oval out of a circle! Practice making "tear drop" turns. When you begin the actual turn DON"T go to full lock! After you get half the turn completed then you can go full lock, but only if needed. By not going full lock you save a little steering imput in reserve if you find out you need more steering. Remember, power to the rear wheel will help pull you thru and out of the turn. If you need to buy yourself a little time then feather the rear brake a bit, but don't bear down on it....you want to use the brake to slow things down a bit, not stop the bike. Don't pull your grips to make the turn, use your palms to push the grip into the turn. Doing this helps avoid changing clutch engagement and throttle position.

When I owned my 2005 LT I quickly discovered that I could apply a small amount of rear brake pedal movement and engage rear brake only. If I pressed the rear brake pedal too much I would apply front brake which is the kiss of death in a slow tight turn. Applying front brake in a tight turn will take you straight to the ground.....guaranteed! Lastly, one reason why Harley Davidson touring bikes perform exceptionally well at parking lot speed is due to the location of the fork legs. These legs are BEHIND the steering stem and this greatly assists in slow speed turning control. I hope this information helps some of you but remember, if you can make a 20' turn with confidence you can make a u-turn almost anywhere and look like a pro doing it. Some people like to push the envelope and try to make smaller turns when they really don't need to. This usually results in a damaged bike or worse yet a damaged rider. Which reminds me, keep your feet of the boards/pegs. It doesn't feeel very good when you run your own ankle over...I know from personal experience!!! Oh yeah.....C.D.I.
Rick
I like this one........just remember everyone has good imput and everyone has good exeriences. Everyone has technqiues and you have to find the one that works for you. Some people have to move in the saddle to help with counter balance/weight.
 

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Re: How to make a tight u-turn EASY

thegreentreefrog said:
It's all about center of gravity and shifting your weight. You have felt how easy it is at highway speed to change lanes by moving your shoulders left or right. The bike responds instantly and its a great feeling. At low speed things change to make this turn smoothly pull your body forward (like the handle bars are a dumbbell. Now lean in the direction you wish to turn! Try this in a empty parking lot , you will soon master this low speed turning technique. Its easy and fun. I first learned it when riding dirt bikes.
Center of gravity, the total weight and skills - practice, practice and practice.
Need a good example? See the video:

http://youtu.be/w-0zuuMStjY

BJ
 

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I like this subject: Have recently been practicing my U turn a lot, as well as short circles and figure 8 and I believe it has helped my driving a lot in all other circumstances.

In my experience, being able to do a short U turn is something that has helped me a lot in all driving.

The video I most like is this one:

After years of not spending any time at all practicing anything, just going out to ride and using the bike, now, after a little time practicing, I can do a U turn from a stop in a very narrow road. This is after years of tipping the bike over, many times on an K LT and other big bikes, wife and gear included.

Main thing is I learned to keep the engine pulling... By slipping the clutch of course. The urge to pull the clutch in and thus loose all control is what in my case seems allways to have been my fundamental problem. The engine must be pulling all the time. In other situations too...

The thing for me was to exercise in an open parking lot with nobody else, untill the circle or U turn became quite small and my confidence a lot greater.

I believe the clutch and engine control achieved is what now makes me more confident out on the twisties and at higher speeds.

Hope this is of interest...

Happy riding.
 

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I would be ever most grateful if you would provide a very detailed description of how to properly execute a tight u-turn on an LT. Please provide a sequence of events through the maneuver from approach to completion. Please address eyes, body position, and what both hands and both feet should be doing. Thank you very much and I will be certain to add you to my list of things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Ray
As several others have said, Take the MSF class. You'll be glad you did and you'll be surprised what you'll learn in addition to how to make slow tight turns!
 

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I like this subject: Have recently been practicing my U turn a lot, as well as short circles and figure 8 and I believe it has helped my driving a lot in all other circumstances.

In my experience, being able to do a short U turn is something that has helped me a lot in all driving.

The video I most like is this one:

After years of not spending any time at all practicing anything, just going out to ride and using the bike, now, after a little time practicing, I can do a U turn from a stop in a very narrow road. This is after years of tipping the bike over, many times on an K LT and other big bikes, wife and gear included.

Main thing is I learned to keep the engine pulling... By slipping the clutch of course. The urge to pull the clutch in and thus loose all control is what in my case seems allways to have been my fundamental problem. The engine must be pulling all the time. In other situations too...

The thing for me was to exercise in an open parking lot with nobody else, untill the circle or U turn became quite small and my confidence a lot greater.

I believe the clutch and engine control achieved is what now makes me more confident out on the twisties and at higher speeds.

Hope this is of interest...

Happy riding.
I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who is so rough on their bike for now reason. Slamming the bars against the stops continually shows poor technique. Riding maneuvers should be smooth. As they say “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
 
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An old thread revived..... There is something that I learned accidentally that I may have missed in the thread is to remove your top box (debate on long it takes to be removed in another thread) and then practice. There will be a noticeable difference.
 

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I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who is so rough on their bike for now reason. Slamming the bars against the stops continually shows poor technique. Riding maneuvers should be smooth. As they say “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
I think he was slamming the bars for emphasis in the video to ensure you place them at the stops. He can be rough with his bike if he likes but I never do that either.
 

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An old thread revived..... There is something that I learned accidentally that I may have missed in the thread is to remove your top box (debate on long it takes to be removed in another thread) and then practice. There will be a noticeable difference.

The only difference will be visual. The tiny weight is irrelevant, particularly when you still need to be able to do it with a pillion passenger.
 
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