Cornering Like a Pro

Even at moderate speeds, you achieve most of your steering by leaning the bike, not turning the handle bars. The amount of turn depends on how far you lean the bike. Lay it right over for tight radius turns. Conversely, big long sweeping turns require only minimal bike lean.

Lean On Me
As you turn, centrifugal force conspires to toss you off your bike into the bushes on the outside of the corner. The strength depends on how fast you’re travelling. So when you whip around a corner blisteringly fast, you need to lean into it. Heavily (think about those crazies who race grand prix motor cycles around impossibly tight corners at ridiculous speeds). But because your speed and the radius of the turn are rarely in synch, you need to lean your bike and your body at different angles. Generally, this means leaning your bike into the turn and keeping your body slightly more upright.

To carve out an graceful turn you have to maintain traction on the front wheel. You can do this by subtly moving your weight forward in the turn. The best method of doing this is to splay your elbows out – this forces you slightly forward and lowers your center of gravity. Beware. Do not overdo this while screaming down extremely steep hills. It can result in the big full frontal endo. You also want to keep your weight over the “contact patch”, ie. where the rubber meets the road. So try to put more weight on your inside hand and on the outside pedal which you better have placed at the bottom of its stroke.

Control Your Speed
For optimal cornering it pays to enter the corner at the right speed. Before the corner you can brake hard while you’re still travelling in a straight line, but often you’re forced to take evasive action once you’re well and truly in the corner. Try using the back brake to scrub off speed the front brake will generally force you and your bike to suddenly part company.

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