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CORNERING: Part1, the Basics

Posted on 18 February, 2018 at 2:00

Cornering: Part 1, the Basic techniques. 

Successful, smooth, safe, swift cornering is a complex combination of many factors but the basics are the same for everyone. From your first wobbly curves at Pre Learner training all the way up to the likes of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, we all have to do the same basic things:

• The Three Ps (Preparation, Position and Path)

• Counter-steering

• Look, Push, Lean

• Vision Limit Point.

Preparation: as you approach the corner assess how tight it is and get your speed adjustment, braking and gear selection done nice and early. 2-3 seconds before the start of the corner gives you a bit of spare time for further adjustment, if necessary. Your speed should be set so that you can stop your bike in the distance you can see to be clear.

Position: approach the corner as wide as you safely can to give yourself the longest view through the corner. All the way out to the left of your lane for right-hand corners and over near the centre white line for left hand corners. Remember to take into account the road surface and any oncoming vehicles and adjust your position accordingly.

Path: start the corner as wide as you safely can. Mid corner, stay away (buffer) from the head-on zone in case an oncoming vehicle crosses the centre line and drifts onto your side of the road, then aim to finish the corner tight to give yourself a bit of room for error.

Counter-steering: the science of counter-steering is all about gyroscopic effects and is a bit complicated but the basics of it are really simple. If you want the bike to lean to the left give the left handlebar a little push, forwards and down. If you want the bike to lean to the right give the right handlebar a little push, forwards and down. As a starting point that’s all you need. A smooth, gentle push on the handlebar in the direction you want to go. To go left push the left bar, to go right push the right bar.

Look where you want the bike to finish up, as far ahead as you can see. Turn your head!

Push on the inside handlebar.

Lean into the turn with your bike, dipping your chin and shoulder to the inside of the turn.

Vision Limit Point: this is the furthest point in the corner to which you have an uninterrupted view, the point where the kerb or edge of your lane appears to meet the centre white line. The further away the limit point is the faster you can go because you have more room to stop if necessary. As you go through the corner watch the vision limit point, if it appears to be getting closer to you the corner is tightening and you might need to slow down or even brake. If the limit point is constant then your speed is good. If the limit point is moving away from you it should be safe to accelerate (keeping an eye on the speed limit, of course.)

As always, start slowly and gradually build up your skills and techniques. The next article will talk about more advanced skills to add to and enhance these basics.

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