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Riding A RT In The Wind


Nice n Easy Rider

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Nice n Easy Rider

Any tips from you more experienced riders concerning riding a RT in the wind? We had some pretty steady winds yesterday with occasional gusts probably pushing 30 mph or more (OK, OK I know that's not much compared to Texas, etc, but it was the best we could do on short notice). Anyhow, I needed to get to a meeting and the interstate was by far the best route given my limited time. I had both the sidebags and topcase (49L) on. Not only would the bike get pushed side-to-side at times but I found it would sometimes seem to be held back and then release quickly if a gust was coming from the forward direction. When I lowered the windscreen it was even worse so I guess the windscreen gave me some relief.

 

Anyhow, I'm just getting use to the 'height' of the RT and its 'top-heaviness' compared to previous rides and was wondering if there are any tricks to riding in such windy conditions.

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If you can ditch the top box, that will help a lot. Otherwise, not much you can do but "go-with-the-flow" and don't over compensate on sudden gusts.

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters

I think it is more about relaxing when the tendency is to tighten up. Just hard to over that fear that the next gust is going to blow you off the road.

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Was riding home yesterday in the same wind (virginia beach only three hours from Chapel Hill ...). I have a V-Technik shield, and really think it has made a HUGE difference in high wind situations.

 

I ride with only the large top box, and while it does cause some "movement," I need it for my carrying my things to/from work.

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I think it is more about relaxing when the tendency is to tighten up. Just hard to over that fear that the next gust is going to blow you off the road.

 

+1 and don't worry about the top box either. Light on the bars. Lean the bike, not yourself, if necessary.

 

I've ridden many miles through very severe wind. It won't hurt you.

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For me, it's loose grip on the bars and maximize space by staying in either the far left or far right lane on a divided highway (better to be blown onto the shoulder than into another car). Also, be careful passing trucks and other windblockers. Hang back until you've got a clear shot back into clean air. On the interstate, windshield fully up seems to work the best; then again, you may be more aerodynamic than I am.

 

 

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I learned this technique several decades ago, and it works just as well on the RT as any other bike. I cannot fully explain why it works, other than it seems to act somewhat like a rudder, or an extended anchor in a hurricane.

 

On the upwind side of the bike, extend your knee out into the slipstream as much as is comfortable. The drag this creates increases with the strength of the wind, so the bike takes on a much more stable track.

 

Experiment with this........It has certainly made long rides across Kansas less tiring for me......And it has eased the tension on those short, gusty commutes as well.

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Interesting that when I brought this up in the 28l vs 49l top box thread most replies were to the contrary. Now most are replying in agreement.

 

:S

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Bradley_Gillie

Aside from all of the great tips above, one thing that helps me is to try and anticipate when the gusts will hit you. If your riding next to a tree line and come up on a clearing, get ready for it. Same goes when approaching overpasses and when you pass a truck going your direction, or when an oncoming truck passes you.

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I usually reduce my speed a bit, and then just relax and let the bike do most of the work. My initial tendency was to over-react to each gust. I find that by just not reacting much, at least consciously, things even out a bit. Obviously I'll react if I'm being blown out of my lane, but I think of it a bit like I would steering a boat. Little course fluctuations don't require corrective action in most cases.

 

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Before I changed to Wilber shocks, riding my RT in strong cross winds was exciting to say the least.

But since then, the bike tracks like it's on rails and behaves soooo much better under those conditions.

 

It really was an amazing transformation. :grin:

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+1 on keeping loose.

 

As said, if there is anything that will help you see where the wind is hitting, try to use it.

 

I do not slow down, I allow the bike to wander instead of trying to keep it under control, once it has wandered a little I apply input to that new vector, this way I do not overcorrect. I hope this is understandable.

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I think it is more about relaxing when the tendency is to tighten up. Just hard to over that fear that the next gust is going to blow you off the road.

 

+1 and don't worry about the top box either. Light on the bars. Lean the bike, not yourself, if necessary.

 

I've ridden many miles through very severe wind. It won't hurt you.

 

+2 The unsettling feel is usually much worse than your actual movements. Try this to get an idea of how little your bike is actually moving... In a heavy wind, where it feels like you're moving all over the place, aim at a point pretty far down the road. Relax, stay loose, and ride to that point with minimal adjustments. See how little you miss by. It probably feels like you're moving a full lane width, but in the vast majority of situations, the movements are a matter of inches, or maybe a foot at most. It's a good way to build confidence in windy conditions.

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I usually reduce my speed a bit

 

Doesn't this reduce stability? My take would be that the gyroscopic forces of the wheel keep the bike upright, and they are greater if you are going faster. I have yet to test this theory with an officer though. :-)

 

I've ridden w/topbox in 30ish mph winds across Montana and Wyoming. What's a lot of wind? 20? 40?

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I find that riding in the wind, speed is your friend. Yes the RT gets buffeted a bit more than a lot of other bikes from all the plastic, but I still find it to be pretty much a non-event, even in 40-50 mph direct crosswinds (I-5 South of Sacramento gets those a lot.) I have no problem holding my line. The bike seems to have a tendency to want to lean in to the wind to correct itself, I just stay loose, let it do it, and steer the bike straight.

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I have also ridden in cross winds with my RT. I try not to think too much about it. I try to loosen up and go with it. I hate an oncoming truck on a two lane highway. The wind stops, then blasts you almost off the road. I go a little faster just before the wind hits me. It seems to help.

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Riding in the wind is kind of like going to the dentist. If you just relax and loosen up it goes by much easier. I don't much like riding in the wind but if it is windy I don't stop riding.

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I have riden mine in high winds both with and without my 49l top case and IMHO it makes no difference if it is on or not. The best thing that I can suggest is to relax and look where you intend to go, I treat cross winds like a corner and have found that it seems to smooth out the ride. The biggest problem that I see happening is target fixation. My wife is a true nOOb when it comes to riding so things are exagerated when they happen to her due to lack of experiance and confidence behind the bars. So here is what happens( and she has pulled off the highway freaked out and crying before because of wind): You get hit by a crosswind and it pushes you twords the rocky shoulder, you then focus on said shoulder and in turn head straight for it due to target fixation like in a corner. The same rules apply in wind as corners IMO: get loose, look where you want to go, countersteer to get the lean angle that will keep you going twords where you are looking and make small gentle corrections to stay headed twords your point of focus. I realy let the bike react under me how it will, stay relaxed, and keep my inputs to the minimum necessary in order to keep going where I want to

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters
and she has pulled off the highway freaked out and crying before because of wind

Me too, 'cept I'd never admit it. :rofl:

 

 

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I agree with the others that say relax in the wind. I find the biggest problem is the wind pushing my arms, which in turn push the bars. I find the bike is pretty stable in cross winds(top box or not). Also, look at the topography you are riding in. I ride on CA 14 every other day. There is one section next to the hills that is pretty breezy. When there is an opening between the hills, the wind blows one way. When the hills are together, the wind blows the other way. Every time. I know this, so I am ready for it. The rt seems to get blown about less than other bikes I've ridden (or maybe I'm getting to be a better rider). Watch out for other cars and trucks getting blown about in the same spots.

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ShovelStrokeEd

This works for steady winds and helps with gusts.

 

Lean the bike into the wind and then climb up on the leeward side of the seat until you are back in your windscreens shadow. Its kinda the same position you would use for a low speed U-turn. Bike will be much more stable under you and less subject to the vagaries of the breeze.

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Keep your hands tight and elbows loose...

 

WRONG!!!

 

Tight on the bars will only exasserbate the problem. Stay completely loose, allowing the bike to move under you, but in a controlled manner.

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I've owned and ridden many bikes. And contrary to what many might think, Nevada, Cal and Arizona get their fair share of wind. The RT always struck me as pretty finicky in a gusty wind. I remember riding to Big Bear Lake, CA when the winds were in the 35-50 mph range. It was fun. Not! Don't get me wrong - the RT won't do anything untoward - it just feels like it might. In reality, it is stable and steady and not a problem. You just have to learn to trust it.

 

Having said that, the current K1200GT, K1200S, the FJR 1300 and various other bikes are arrow-straight in gusty winds, which just goes to illustrate my point: the RT FEELS more persnickety than it actually is. --==3

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Nice n Easy Rider

Thanks everyone for all of the helpful tips. From many of the responses it sounds like it is more of a perception issue than the RT actually mishandling in the wind. It was difficult to anticipate wind forces since these were swirling gusts which came from various directions. Although this was only a 15-20 mile ride it certainly wasn't as much fun as usual. I'll remember to stay loose. Thanks again.

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This works for steady winds and helps with gusts.

 

Lean the bike into the wind and then climb up on the leeward side of the seat until you are back in your windscreens shadow. Its kinda the same position you would use for a low speed U-turn. Bike will be much more stable under you and less subject to the vagaries of the breeze.

 

I picked up this technique from Ed a few years ago. It works great for me and everyone I've told about it :) Thanks Ed!

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Do not assume that you cannot be blown around no matter how you ride the bike or what top case is on it. Granted, the steady strong winds give you time to adjust your riding and get used to the degree of motion (sort of like being on a small boat on a windy ocean). Look out for the gusts. I've been blown into the opposing lane on HWY 1 when a gust came down a canyon from the east even though there was a gentle westerly blowing off the ocean. A friend and I were riding back from our local BMR Riders meeting over San Marcos pass, a local 1700' pass. I was in front and could see some dust blowing across the road as we approached a right hand sweeper. I pushed on the right hand grip, like going into a turn and braced for the blast, no real problem. Phil, who was riding staggered behind me on the upwind side of the road, got blown into the other lane and had a struggle to get back on our side. In January of 08 while riding back from Death Valley I was hit by a side gust with a lot of blowing sand that pitted my visor, windscreen, headlight, and Motolight lens. For some reason the fairings survived unscathed. I was pushing very hard on the upwind handgrip, my speed was only 28mph at that point, and I could barely keep the bike on the road. A few miles earlier I could see rocks the size of my fist being blown across the road as I approached a turn. That gust I was ready for and figured that would be about the strongest I would encounter that day, wrong. Riding in the wind can be just another enjoyable aspect of our bike travels, but be ever vigilant for signs of a strong gust.

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There's no doubt having the topcase case attached especially the 49l size acts much like a sail in the wind.

 

Similar to riding with and without a pillion during windy conditions there's a noticable affect on aerodynamics. Since each are position at a high center of gravity they can leverage the bike from side to side.

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That's good advice to relax and you will find that the natural tendency is to maintain intended path. Do this smoothly and it will result in a slight amount of lean into the wind but steady riding.

 

The trouble is when wind is not constant. You find this in a few different situations:

1 strong gusty winds. Watch traffic in front of you for hints. Position yourself to the upwind side of your lane.

 

2 Side winds intermittently blocked by hills/terrain. Stay near the upwind side of your lane and watch for the terrain changes. Stay relaxed.

 

3 Side winds with large blocking vehicles (semi tractor trailers). This is to me the worst. I see bikers riding in their wind shadow. Don't! stay well behind or well in front. If you have to pass or get passed on the down wind side, just be prepared for sudden bursts.

 

After a while you will get used to the short term transition going from no/low wind to strong cross wind. The thing is to make sure you keep your eyes open for situations that will change the strength of side winds and let the bike help you.

 

Ride safe!

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I cross a very tall and narrow bridge when I ride to work. Two lanes, about 24" between the fogline and the Jersey barrier sides (which would do an excellent job of launching any poor sucker on a motorcycle down to the river).

 

It's often very gusty - often in winter weather up to 50 kts. When I first got back into riding a few years ago, that freaked me out a bit. But I followed the same advice given here and it works.

 

I would add that I make sure I've properly posted the balls of my feet on the pegs, squeeze the tank a bit with my knees, and ensure that from the waist up I am loose, ready to take the more serious gusts by slight changes to the hips rather than giving inputs to the bars.

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I've seen this thread many times. Relaxed is key. However, the way of thinking that works for me is to keep my balance and eyes going down the road in my lane, and let the wind blow the wheels out from under me. The bike then maintains it's straight path down the road, naturally, as the tires and motorcycle are designed to do.

 

Yes, it wonders some, but never more than 1/3 the lane width. I don't anticipate trucks, gusts, bridges - I don't use steering or other inputs - I just let the bike do it's thing. You need to trust that the lean of the motorcycle from the wind will not cause it to loose tire traction. That fear of loosing tire traction and sliding down the highway is important to overcome. A motorcycle will lean pretty far over, on clean pavement, to the point of dragging the pegs. I've never had wind lean me over that far.

 

GIVI trunk, extra fuel tank on the passenger seat, elephant saddle bags; I like the RT a lot, and I think it's very slippery in the wind with all that stuff. Way better than the K100LT, R80RT, and numerous other BMW's I've owned.

 

My experience is long distance riding, IBA type rallies, lots of travel, many trips across the prairies of the US and Canada.

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I had a GL1800 before the RT, and it was way worse in crosswinds. That is one of the things that greatly pleased me about the RT (there are many others).

 

Like another poster mentioned, I also use the "knee out on the upwind side" technique, kind of like a spoiler on an airplane. It works for me for minor corrections. And, loose on the grips helps tremendously.

 

Most important to me in crosswinds is trying to read the terrain, so to anticipate the effects. For example, if I see the start of a guardrail on the upwind side, I know I will drift that way when I get there. Same with overpasses. There is as much potential for being drawn toward the crosswind in protected pockets as there is for being pushed by the wind. It is an experience that demands enhanced concentration, yet a measured calm that will keep you from overreacting.

 

Another example is the dreaded semi pass, especially when the wind is right to left. First off, I don't like to stay anywhere near trucks. That's a given. Next, I plan the pass as to avoid having to do so in a turn (if at all possible). I pass in the left side of my lane, and when reaching the bow wave of the truck, give a push to the right, so that I am edging toward the front of the truck as I pass, and the bow wave ends up pushing me straight.

 

All things considered, I much prefer the crosswind to be right-to-left. The left-to-right wind gets real interesting when it comes to semis coming the other way on a two lane highway. I have vivid memories of Hwy. 380 in New Mexico and West Texas. Enough said.

 

Paul in CA

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On a cross country trip with bags and top case I learned that the bike must be in the powerband and pulling in a positive manner. This meant dropping down a gear and keeping on the throttle so the bike was always going forward under power.

 

I lowered the wind screen to reduce the "sail effect" of the screen. Also, to increase stability I would "step down" on the footpeg on the windward side (putting more emphasis on it) to keep the bike from being blown off its course.

 

Hope these help.

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AdventurePoser

Hi George,

 

Around here we have some pretty furious winds in the winter called "Santa Anas." I believe a light touch, elbows loose, and a relaxed stance on the bike makes for a much more enjoyable ride in the wind. When you learn to go with it rather than fight it, the ride is much, much better.

 

There does come a time when it is too windy. I get off the road if branches, or other heavy debris is being hurled across the highway. Just my luck to get pegged by a roof tile sailing across the road...

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Prior to my RT I had a K1100 LT which I thought was much less sensitive to wind. I thought something was wrong with the R1100RT on my test ride as it seemed to be getting blown all over the road.

 

As others have said, the key is to just relax...and pay attention to the terrain in a crosswind.

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IMO you'll find that wind is not that much of a hassle as you gain more experience on the RT. top case (givi) has not been an issue for me in windy conditions.

 

first year i had the RT strong cross winds were bothersome. it goes away with time. good luck and hope you experience mirrors mine.

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My last thought. Was driving in the desert (arizona) and I saw the dust indicating a very strong cross wind. I slowed to a stop. When the gust hit it moved me about 4 inches down wind. I was in a pickup truck. Have no idea what would have happened if I was riding.

 

Some winds are strong enough to knock a bike over or make it move a lot. Just make sure you look for the signs. Strong winds are usually obvious if you have a line of sight.

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I rode my RT, w/o top box but with a pile of camping gear, across the Mackinaw Straits Bridge when the flashing signs were warning RVs to stay below 35 mph. It didn't say anything about bikes, though . . . It sure was windy up there, and quite "interesting" I must say, but the bike was more composed than I was. I've never worried about wind since then. The RT looks like it would be a barn door in a crosswind, but for some reason it's not -- it actually seems more stable than the cruiser-type bike I used to ride. Sophisticated German aerodynamics, I guess . . .

 

Lee

2002 R1150RT

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I think the RT is very stable, but the rider acts like a sail. The rider's whole weight is above the center of gravity. That's why it helps to keep a loose grip; you'll get blown around but the bike stays pretty true under you. Also, at highway speed, it helps me to have the windshield raised to max. I'm guessing that the wind envelope it creates counters the side wind thrust on the rider.

 

 

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Rode my new TR home and guess what? There were very strong winds that day (last Thursday ). I payed close attention to the situation and the reaction of the bike and myself.

 

It was so natural I almost didn't catch myself doing it. Just like a person walking who gets hit with a sudden gust he instinctively leans into it. On the bike what happened when I hit a strong gust or uncovered side wind was that I pushed the grip that was in the direction from which the wind was coming. No thought, it was just automatic. Wind from right; push on right grip.

 

I am sure that way back when when I was learning to handle a bike I learned this lesson and that now it is just one of those unconscious reactions like counter steering or leaning against the braking force. You do it without thinking.

 

I think you learn this reaction so quickly because as in walking you just lean into a wind gust. on the bike leaning to the wind causes one to put pressure on the up-wind grip. When you are relaxed you feel what is happening quicker and more precisely. The reaction is not a planned response but the bike riding equivalent of leaning into the wind.

 

Now all you have to do is to find some light to moderate cross winds and experiment for a little while. (Yes I am kidding.)

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I guess I haven't posted on this one butt as I ride LD I have too many days of wind and what has been said of relaxing is important.

 

Something else I do, especially when there is no other traffic around, is gently weave from side to side in my lane, or across all the lanes on my side of the road if possible. This weaving sets me up to "attack" the gusts as opposed to sitting there waiting for the next one to hit and make me weave.

 

I would call it being proactive rather than passive. I don't do it, or do it in exagerated fashion, if traffic is around, butt if a cop stopped me I would explain what is going on and would tell the judge the same if necessary.

 

While I don't ride with the RT stripped down I do not believe the bags are that much of a problem even if they add a bit of surface to get hit.

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"....Some winds are strong enough to knock a bike over or make it move a lot. Just make sure you look for the signs. Strong winds are usually obvious if you have a line of sight....."

 

Actually,I think it's much more likely you'd be knocked over by a strong wind while on the bike stopped than if you were moving above 30 mph or so. While my RT does feel like it's getting blown around a bit in 40+ knot conditions, I just relax and don't ride the centerline or get too carried away in the twisties. I have never felt I was in danger of toppling......except at stop signs. Two feet firmly on the ground is a requirement.

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Riding an RT in the wind can feel like teaching a 6-year old to stay within the bowling lane. It gets thrown all over the lane and the best thing is to relax and laugh at the strange attitude of 900+lbs fully loaded, tilted way over but going arrow straight feels like.

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