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How to Improve Cornering on Your Motorcycle

How to Improve Cornering on Your Motorcycle

Many riders fail at turning corners because they do not understand the physics behind leaning to clear a corner safely. Even expert riders can make mistakes when turning corners.

Riding a motorcycle requires skill to be able to enjoy it safely. It is a step-by-step procedure to learn how to ride a motorbike. One of the most important skills that riders need to learn is cornering. Your riding skills depend on how confident you are while turning a corner. Unfortunately, many riders lack confidence when it comes to turning corners. Some motorcycle accidents happen because riders lose control or slip when coming around the corner. Several factors determine how well a rider turns a corner, including the lean angle, speed, timing, and body position. This article explains how to improve cornering on your motorcycle.

1. Practice Regularly

Practice Regularly
Photo Credit: @ninetowners

Learning how to turn corners on a motorcycle requires practice, dedication, and consistency. To become better at turning corners, a rider should practice regularly. Repetition will instill confidence and ensure that you make better decisions. Cornering is all about making the right decision at the moment. Once you get used to turning the corners, your overall riding skills will become better.

2. Use an Entry-Level Motorbike

If you are a beginner or have little experience turning corners, you should start practicing on an entry-level motorbike. Even if you fail once or twice on a cheaper or entry-level bike, and scrape the fairing or footrests, it does not cost much to repair or replace any damaged parts with newer motorcycle parts.

3. Evaluate the Road/Pavement

Riders should be aware of their surroundings when on the road. He/she should have an idea of what is coming up ahead, including the road condition and how deep the turn is. This helps the rider determine what speed he/she should be riding, prepare to lean into the turn, and adjust their body position. When on the road and/or about to make a turn, riders should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is the condition of the road?
  • Are you familiar with the twists and turns on the road?
  • Is the road in good shape or not?
  • Is the pavement dry or wet?
  • Is it snowing?
  • Is there snow on the road?
  • Is the road slippery?
  • Is there any dirt, debris, or fallen leaves ahead?
  • Is there traffic on the road?

If you are unsure about what is ahead, how tight the turn is, and cannot see what is on the other side of the bend, do not try the turn yet as it can be dangerous. It is better to slow down and scan the surrounding area before reaching the tight bend.

4. Watch the Road Signs

Road signs provide warnings about any hazards ahead or changes in the direction of the road. Common examples of road signs include:

  • Drive slowly and safely
  • The road is under construction
  • Corner with a decreasing radius ahead
  • Damaged road ahead
  • Sharp turn ahead

The most dangerous corner is one with a decreasing radius. It is important that you enter such corners at low speeds as entering a corner with a decreasing radius at high speeds will not leave enough time to apply the brakes or slow down.

5. Ideal Riding Conditions for Cornering

After confirming the road conditions of the corner are safe, riders should adjust their speed. Do not enter a turn at high speed, do not quickly apply the brakes, nor accelerate too fast.

The ideal riding conditions for cornering include:

  • Enter the turn at low speeds
  • Make sure the road is not slippery
  • Make sure you are aware of the road and what is coming ahead
  • Do not accelerate while cornering
  • Make sure you are wearing riding gears

6. Entering a Turn at Low or High Speed

Entering a Turn at Low or High Speed
Photo Credit: @circuitbasedtraining

Entering a turn at high speed produces more frictional force and centripetal acceleration. Sportbike riders take advantage of this when turning corners on race tracks. However, it can be dangerous if you lose control when turning a corner. since it is nearly impossible to regain control before crashing.

Accelerating while turning the corner is not recommended since it can cause motorcycle tires to lift off the ground. Make sure to slow down and apply the brake before you enter a turn and adjust your gear level to the appropriate speed. Maintain speed without accelerating or decelerating further. Entering a turn slowly gives you enough time to access the conditions of the road ahead.

7. Body Position and Leaning

Body Position and Leaning
Photo Credit: @webbikeworld

When sports bike racers turn corners at high speeds, they adjust their body position so they are leaning towards the direction they are turning. However, if they start to lose control while turning, they quickly shift their body weight to the other side to regain balance, also known as counter-leaning.

Body Position and Leaning2
Photo Credit: @dirtxtreme

Counter-leaning helps riders practice and improve their motorbike cornering skills. When counter-leaning, you have a full view of your surroundings and the road ahead. Meanwhile, leaning towards the same side as the motorcycle’s lean angle will hinder the rider’s view.

8. Relationship Between Body Position, Speed, & Leaning Angle

If a rider enters a turn at high speed, he/she must adjust his/her body position so that it is more towards the leaning angle to increase centripetal force when making a turn. However, if a rider has to make a slow turn, he/she should counter-lean or adjust his/her weight so that it is away from the leaning angle to turn a corner safely.

9. Counter-Steering

Counter-steering focuses on putting gentle pressure on the handlebars while turning corners. To make a left turn, the rider must gently push the handlebars' left side gently forward. If you are turning to the left at a higher speed, you can also pull back the right side of the handlebars gently. Similarly, to turn towards the right, the rider has to push the right side of the handlebars forward and pull back the left side of the handlebars to lean more quickly.

10. Takeaway

Turning a corner is one of the key riding skills that every rider should possess. If you are unsure about how to safely turn a corner, you will never be able to fully enjoy the motorcycle riding experience. To improve your motorcycle cornering capability, there are several steps that you need to follow, including practicing on an entry-level motorbike at low speeds. Make sure that you are familiar with the road’s condition, twists, and turns. Riding a motorcycle is fun but can be dangerous if you do not follow the rules and take safety precautions. You can follow all the instructions provided in this article to become better at turning corners.

To keep your motorcycle’s fairing and frame from scraping while turning corners, you can install crash bars available at Viking Bags. Also, if you are a motorcycle enthusiast and love touring, Viking Bags has saddlebags and sissy bar bags to improve storage capacity. Other aftermarket parts include handlebars, fairings, sissy bars, seats, and backrests.

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