Six steps to safe cornering

The golden rule about cornering

Go in wide and slow – Come out fast

At all times apply this golden rule to the six detailed steps below;

Step 1

Back off the power and brake to an appropriate speed. Go wide. This gives you the ability to see around the corner.

Step 2

Look through the corner. (Do not look down at your bike or the handle bar!) Check for surface hazards, obstructions etc
Keep your eyes focussed on the exact patch of tar where you want to be in a second or two. Your bike will naturally follow an invisible line through the corner towards the spot where your eyes are focussed. Do not look down!

Step 3

Lean forward as you go through the corner. It makes dropping the bike down a whole lot easier if you own one where the sitting position is fairly upright (Sportbike riders will be doing this anyway due to the ergonomics of their bikes)

Step 4

Use the principle of counter steering and push on the inside/low bar. Shift your weight into the corner so that your pelvis points into the corner. This helps the bike to drop smoothly down smoothly. (The skill of fast safe cornering lies in this preparation phase.)

Step 5

As you drop your bike into the corner, keep both eyes reasonably level with the surface of the road.

Put differently – when you turn left, tip your head right so that your jaw points to the inside of the corner (do not point with your forehead). When you turn right, tip your head left.

Step 6

As your bike commits to the curve, gently tap into the throttle and power through the corner. This maintains even tyre traction and stability.

If you cannot do this because of your high speed it is because you did not slow down sufficiently before the corner. Correct this in the next corner (assuming you survive!!)

In practice cornering goes like this . . .


steeringYou see the corner . . .

(Preparation phase) . . . move to the outside of the corner, sit up straight, ease off the power, check mirrors, apply brakes until you are going at the correct speed. Release the brakes. Look through the corner, lean forward arms loose and relaxed, . . .

(Corner itself) . . .counter steer and the bike drops and cuts towards the solid line. Tip your head the opposite way . . . look through the corner. The tyres bite, the exit is clear, tap into the power again and gently power yourself through the remainder of the corner. Yahooo!!!

Look through the corner
Arms bent and relaxed

Counter Steer

Turning left? . . . tip head to the right . . . eyes level with the road surface.

Tap evenly into the power and exit.

I personally only brake during the preparation phase and not in the corner itself.

Note: Once your bike is leaning over the back wheel is very sensitive. It does not like any sudden change in torque pressure caused by hard braking or sharp acceleration in a newly selected gear. Even letting out the clutch too quickly in a higher gear is problematic. In all three examples the rear wheel is likely to loose traction and slide out.

At the end of the day there is no substitute for practice and the skill of steering (and counter steering) is best taught at a motorcycle school on a suitable racetrack where you can practice safely. (See page on Schools)

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