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What is “dragging knee” on a motorcycle?

This badge of honor can be achieved with practice and experience. Drag knee responsibly.

Knee Dragging Motorcycle

You don’t need to watch MotoGP in order to hear the term “dragging knee.” It’s a well-known term among motorcycle enthusiasts who like the thrill of twisty roads and track riding. However, what exactly is dragging your knees on the road while riding? What makes it so special with riders and why the heck do people make such a big deal about it? 

What is “dragging knee?”

Dragging a knee necessitates that you’re still on the bike, and riding. Scraping your knee because of a crash does not count as going knee-down into a corner, that counts as just going down. 

It’s common knowledge that motorcycles lean in order to turn, and to do so your body naturally gets closer and closer to the pavement. Experienced riders tend to extend their legs out in order to get a feel for their lean angle. Knee dragging can be used to get a feel for the lean angle of a motorcycle through a corner. Once you start dragging your knees, that means that the tires are approaching their maximum-possible lean angle, and dragging a knee can give you another sense of how far the motorcycle is leaned over. 

Why is dragging knee a big deal?

Kawasaki Versys 650 Cornering

If you frequent twisty roads with other riders, you may hear the term thrown around especially with the faster crowd. It takes a lot of practice to get your motorcycle leaned over low enough so you can drag. It also takes a good amount of speed and a capable set of tires. Dragging knee has become some sort of badge of honor for riders. 

You need to have the proper riding posture and body position in order to induce enough lean angle and set your knee up to kiss the asphalt. In other words, you’d have to be a good rider in order to get enough speed and lean through a corner. Again, it’s a badge of honor for a lot of riders to drag a knee because that means you’re doing something right and taking advantage of everything the bike has to offer. 

Should you drag knee through corners?

If you ask the question “do you need to drag your knee?” then the answer is no. Don’t try to force a knee-drag as well because that is a recipe for disaster. Without proper training and practice forcing your knee to go down as low as possible will perch you up on your motorcycle in an awkward position, and it might upset the balance of the bike through a turn. Also, if you lose traction slightly, there is a big chance that you will find it hard to regain control. 

It’s important that you ease into the act of dragging a knee because there are so many other skills that have to be up to snuff in order for the drag to be executed properly and safely. In other words, there are other skills that you have to master first before a knee drag can be achieved. Think about it this way, dragging knee is basically the result of a lot of practice and familiarity with riding a motorcycle. It’s the culmination of all the hours of riding and taking turns with finesse. 

Before you drag, however, try and find a good pair of riding pants with built-in pucks so you don’t end up ripping through your favorite pair of riding denim. Either that or you can go for an external set of pads and sliders that will go on the outside of any pair of jeans. 

Important notes on how to drag knee

KTM RC390 2022 Cornering

It’s not just about countersteering in this scenario, of course it plays a part but other factors must be in play while you are turning in order to get low enough. 

Also, you don’t want to drag knee on a bike that is not made for such high lean angles. Sportbikes, sport nakeds, and even sport tourers are probably the easiest to drag knee on because these bikes come with grippy tires and chassis and rider geometries that make it easier to get low. However, you can still certainly drag knee on a big adventure bike. Trust us, we’ve seen quite a few riders get low on even dual-sport tires, and it’s quite a sight to see. That doesn’t mean that you should go out and try it yourself, however.

  • First, your speed must be just right. Not too fast or too slow. You need to be going at a fast enough speed in order for you to need all that lean angle. On top of that, the corner must be tight enough for you to need to turn that sharply. 
  • Second is your throttle control. Make sure that your throttle hand is as smooth as can be, and make sure that you don’t jerk it while turning, otherwise you will end up losing traction. Make sure that you also give your bike some throttle through the turn to keep the suspension and tires loaded. Once you’re at the corner exit, make sure to roll the accelerator smoothly. 
  • Third is your body position. Remember, do not force your knee to touch the ground. Doing so will potentially upset the bike and it can cause a crash. First thing’s first, you need to look where you want to go, point your elbows in the direction that you want to turn, point your chest into the direction of the turn, and extend your head out to the handle bar that you’re countersteering on.
  • Fourth is also covering body position, but with regard to your legs. Make sure that your toes and on the foot pegs. Doing this will put you in an optimal position to rotate your knee out slightly to set yourself up for a proper knee drag. Pair this all together and you have yourself the opportunity to drag knee and earn your badge of honor. 

Remember though, just drag responsibly, and ride safe. 

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