Top 7 Tips for Motorcycle Cornering
Cornering is an exhilarating part of motorcycle riding. However, it can be intimidating and dangerous. It’s tough to master for most, which may explain why many accidents happen during this move.
Riders not only have to pay attention to speed, but also factors such as body position, steering and throttle application. If you’ve been looking for some help on how to improve, you’re in the right place.
With some knowledge and a little bit of practice, you can gain confidence in no time. Read on for our top seven motorcycle cornering tips!
Focus your eyes on the turn
Your motorcycle is going to go where you are looking. As the popular saying goes, where you look is where you go. This is why it’s important to focus your eyes on and through the corner.
This may sound obvious, but it can be an issue when a corner catches you off guard. If you enter one too fast and are not prepared, you may be tempted to look at the object you’re about to collide with. This is called target fixation.
Looking at where you want to go is still considered target fixation. However, it produces much safer and desired results.
Keep a safe speed
Entering a corner at a safe speed is a must. Failure to do so can cause your motorcycle to run wide around the corner or become uncontrollable.
Start with slower speeds entering corners. Speeds that will help you comfortably maintain control and tire grip to help you complete the turn. As you start to gain experience and confidence, gradually increase the speed of your entry until it’s a comfortable and natural sequence.
In some areas, there may be reduced speed limit signs warning you before entering a corner. Always pay attention to these warnings and take them seriously.
Change gears smoothly
In addition to entering a bend at a gradually reduced speed, cornering requires smooth shifting and steering. Abrupt throttle and brake inputs cause decreased stability and precision. Your bike may wobble a bit or end up outside of your intended line.
As you prepare to enter the corner, you want to let off the brakes and shift down a gear. This is best done in a straight line before the turn as it will be smoother. You also won’t need to focus on these steps as you’re rounding the corner.
Open the throttle slightly, but do not accelerate into the corner. Once you’ve reached the midpoint of the corner, gently open the throttle more to gain speed and exit the turn.
Proper steering is critical, too. We mentioned that cornering can be intimidating, but it’s important not to have tense arms and be stiff on the handlebars. Tension at the front of the motorcycle can make the machine reluctant to turn. Freeing up the front can allow the motorcycle to move around easier and better respond to changes in the road surface.
Maintain proper body positioning
When entering a corner, you want to lean slightly forward with your arms bent but relaxed. Your elbows should be in line with the handlebars, or as close to the line as you can manage.
We mentioned at the top the importance of looking where you are going. To help with this, keep your head tilted upwards and your chin towards the farthest section of clear road you can see.
Once you are able to see through the corner, start turning the motorcycle. Transfer your body pressure from the outside footpeg to the inside one. As you transfer your weight, drop your inside shoulder and lean your body into the corner.
Also known as active or positive steering, countersteering is the act of momentarily turning your motorcycle in the opposite direction of the turn.
This may sound confusing, as most people have been conditioned to always look where they’re going. Completing both tasks simultaneously may be a challenge initially, but it can be done.
When you’ve come down to a safe speed and initiate the turn, it’s time to countersteer. If you are coming up on a left turn, you will actually push forward gently on the left handlebar. This will cause the front wheel to turn right, but will also help the motorcycle lean into the turn.
Once the motorcycle begins to lean and you’ve shifted your weight, you can stop actively steering. The motorcycle will move naturally. Continue to maintain control and look through the turn.
As the turn ends, gradually lift the pressure on the handlebar. This will allow the motorcycle to straighten up. As the motorcycle returns to an upright position, your body will follow.
Countersteering helps riders better negotiate bends and corners. On tighter turns and higher speeds, more steering may be required. You can quickly increase your steering input by pulling back on the right handlebar while pushing the left forward on a left turn. Mirror the inputs for a right turn.
Use the full lane
Using the full width of the lane is very advantageous to riders while cornering for a few reasons.
First, it increases your turning radius and buffer zone. Choosing a wide line to follow gives you more space to negotiate the turn. You may realize you’re going too fast and are about to run into an oncoming lane or hit a hazard. The space on the inside of the lane creates a margin for you to react quickly and safely in response to any hazards.
Using the full width of the lane will also improve your visibility on both ends. Not only will you be able to see traffic and potential hazards more clearly, but other drivers and riders will be able to see you better, too.
Lastly, the full lane gives you the space and ability to successfully execute the techniques we have already discussed. This will better help you change gears smoothly, lean the bike and properly distribute your body weight on the corner.
Mastering the art of cornering will not happen in a single day. It requires practice and experience. Because of this, riders new to cornering should start with simple and easy corners. Take them slow at a speed you are more than comfortable with.
As you gain experience, gradually advance to tougher turns to improve your skills. If you feel safe, you may also try taking them a little quicker.
If you are struggling to improve your cornering skills or do not feel comfortable learning on your own, consider enrolling in a riding course. You will receive training and assistance from professionals who aim to keep you comfortable and help you gain confidence.
Be patient with yourself while honing your cornering skills. Keep these tips in mind, and always practice safe riding techniques. Wear the proper gear, practice in a safe setting and abide by all traffic laws and signs.
Which of these tips do you think is most helpful? Is there anything valuable we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!