By now, you must have known about the basic parts of a motorcycle, how to start it and how to apply brakes, as we have talked about them in the earlier blogs. Now, in this blog we will be talking about one of the most important skills that you require to be a good motorcycle rider i.e. cornering.
Cornering is one of the most exciting part of riding a motorcycle, but at the same time it can also be considered as a riskier part until and unless you are not much aware about the skills that you required for cornering. Usually, rider tries to corner fast by increasing their lean angle with the wrong body position or by applying throttle before the apex which leads to increased risk and crashes. But, don’t worry, in this blog we will try our best to serve you with the best content and ideas that might help you to boost your confidence to dig even deeper into the corners.
1) Body position:
Lean forward slightly with relaxed and bent arms, keeping your elbows low in line with the handlebars, if possible. Don’t forget, you need to keep light grip on your handlebars without leaning on them, you may need to gently grip the tank with the help of your legs.
You shouldn’t let your vision drop, instead you need to tilt your head up to see the further side of the corner. As long as you tilt your head up, you get to see the road clearly. Now, once you get the clear view all the way through the corner, that’s when you should turn your motorcycle. This is the time when you need to shift the pressure to the inside foot peg from the outer foot peg.
Note: Never look at anything else outside the corner, since your motorcycle moves to the direction you see at.
Also, dip you inside shoulder towards the corner and lean your upper body to that side i.e. into the corner.
Find a way that makes you comfortable and happy while passing through that corner, and easiest and important thing that you can do is, don’t stop looking into the direction that you want to move. Just keep your chin high and keep looking into the road and turn your head accordingly.
2) Counter steering:
Countersteering as a concept is simple: in order to initiate a turn, turn the handlebars and point the wheels to the opposite direction of where you want to go. If you don’t believe me, run to your motorcycle and try it. You can notice it at speeds. It is difficult to notice at low speeds, but apparently, it still happens but it’s not just always perceptible.
Are you back? Good. If you want to steer right, you need to gently push forward your right handlebar and to steer left, push left handlebar. It leans your bike towards right direction and helps you negotiate the bends. You might not be specially requiring this technique during light turns, however, at higher speeds and tighter bends, giving more input on steering should be made. Otherwise, pulling your handlebars from the opposite side to the side of bend can help you lean the motorcycle further and quicker.
3) Throttle control and gears:
If it’s a normal road, you would want to enter into a corner with a neutral throttle having scrubbed off a little more speed in your braking zone which gives wider margin for the adjustment and is the safer approach.
Now that you have learned how to position your body while entering a corner, it’s time to adjust your speed. Well first, you need to get in position then only you should adjust your speed. Your braking attempt should be progressive, gently on, build pressure, ease off smoothly. The key is to finish the braking while still travelling in a straight line, before you enter into corner, because you do not want to still be on brakes when you start to tip your bike into the corners.
Once you manage the speed of your motorcycle, that’s ideal and that’s the point of this stage where you need to sort the speed and bring your motorcycle into the right gear; go down to the appropriate gear for riding through and out of the corner so that you shouldn’t worry changing the gear into the corner while turning in.
Now, the most dangerous thing that you can do for yourself during cornering is – acceleration. Remember, never accelerate into a corner but you do want a slightly positive throttle. Right after you change a gear, you should be able to open the throttle fractionally, not enough to accelerate but just enough to avoid your motorcycle to slowing any further. This keeps your motorcycle stable by transferring the weight from front tyre to rear with increasing the feel of control. Just be extremely cautious, not to overdo it.
Once you are into the midpoint of corner, gently open the throttle to drive to exit. Opening the throttle will do two things, push the motorcycle out of the corner on a widening line and stand it up for you.
Well the core idea is, the initial twist of the throttle must be smooth, it must be steady at first and must be at the appropriate to put you on a good exit line.
4) Picking a line:
Running wide into a corner is the most common cause of motorcycle fatalities. Even experienced riders fall into this trap if they’re not picking the correct line while turning. Take few passes to warm up and then pay attention to how you are getting around the corners.
In between of your approach, there will come a point where you decide to initiate a turn, notice where that spot is and next time try turning in before that. Meanwhile, you need to keep in mind that you are not going very quickly because you will notice that an early turn in will throw you wide as you get further around the corner.
Now, try opposite, delay your turn-in as late as you can. At this time, you will notice that it is almost impossible to run wide. At this time, you may even find that you have taken safer and more controlled line than your natural approach because you are gathering more information about the corners.
Well, as I mentioned above, even the experienced riders crashes on a bend turn in too early. Probably, it could be because of their tiredness, or riding beyond their abilities or carrying away riding in a group and trying to keep up with fast riders. But, the actual mistake is not paying attention to the turn-in point.
Now the final question is, how far over do you go? The answer is only as far as you feel comfortable. Spot the corner and set it up early, you have time to make preparations.
Well, there are many more to learn about the cornering process, but this is a good start. Implement these steps and you’re well on your way to becoming a cornering master.
By: Rupesh Dulal
Next: Tips and Tricks for motorcycle maintenance.