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The following article, which first appeared on the Design Corse website (www.designcorse.com) gives an interesting and enlightening take on cornering. The issues raised should be seen as informational rather than instructive and should not be used as a substitute for riding to the system.

When cornering on a motorcycle, everything is important — your body position, your entry speed, when you brake, when you throttle and the line you take through the corner all impact your cornering speed and fluidity. Many riders struggle to master these many nuances of cornering, let alone to reach the cornering speeds they strive for. If you want to learn how to corner faster on a motorcycle, try these advanced motorcycle riding techniques for better cornering and increased confidence. By improving your visual line, using the right braking and throttling techniques and mastering the perfect motorcycle cornering body position, you can fly through corners like a pro.

Common Cornering Problems

If you enter a corner with the right lean and body position, your bike will do the rest of the work. Most motorcycles are designed to track predictably so you can glide through a corner with minimal effort. However, many riders still struggle to master cornering if poor form or bad execution interfere with their bike's natural flow. For other riders, lack of motorcycle cornering confidence can hinder them from tackling corners at their highest potential. Every rider faces individual challenges for better cornering, but here are a few common cornering problems that may be slowing you down:

  • Not looking through the corner: Creating the right cornering line is essential to smooth cornering, but many riders neglect looking through the corner. Keep your eyes on the vanishing point and corner exit as you glide through the curve. If you do not practice good visual attention, your cornering may become choppy as you are forced to make corrections during the turn. Looking through a corner also helps you judge how sharp a curve is and adapt to unexpected obstacles.
  • Incorrect body positioning: Your body position during cornering determines your lean angle, center of gravity, tire friction and overall stability. Poor body position — staying static and upright or leaning towards the outside of the curve — can disrupt your bike's stability, making you more likely to fall.
  • Tense grip on the handlebars: During cornering, your motorcycle must be free to adjust to small changes in the riding terrain. By gripping the handlebars too tightly, you restrict your bike from making minor steering corrections on its own. Stiff body posture also hinders you from making smooth corrections or adjustments during the corner if necessary.
  • Poor braking technique: When attempting to corner faster on a motorcycle, new riders may brake later to try to enter the corner at a higher speed. However, late braking often results in over-braking and a slower entry speed. Braking too late can also cause you to be unprepared for the corner or create panic for inexperienced riders.
  • Incorrect throttling technique: When cornering correctly, you should be able to gradually accelerate through the curve. Without steady throttling, you cannot create a smooth cornering line and may be forced to adjust in the corner. Letting off the throttle while cornering can disrupt the natural arc of the motorcycle's path and cause your bike to wobble.

As you practice cornering, try to identify areas where you can improve your technique. Once you recognize what is holding you back from faster cornering, you can focus on improving that skill and mastering cornering.

Judging and Looking Through Corners

As you approach a corner, widen your vision and look through the corner. Instead of focusing on one area or point, look far ahead at where you want to go. By creating a cornering line with your sight, you can more easily guide your bike along the same path as you corner. When you practice proper visual attention, you can better anticipate how tight a corner will be, judge the correct entry speed and adjust if a corner becomes tighter. Here are a few motorcycle riding tips for looking ahead and correctly judging corners:

  • Watch the vanishing point: Pay attention to the vanishing point where the corner disappears from your sight as you approach and while you are cornering. If the vanishing point moves closer to you, the corner has a decreasing radius and is tightening. If the vanishing point opens up and moves farther away, the cornering is widening. Use the center line and fog line to judge the vanishing point of the corner. 
  • Observe treetops and power lines: If your view through a corner is obstructed by foliage, use power lines, treetops or other markers along the road to anticipate how tight a corner might be. However, remember that these markers may not perfectly reflect the curve of the road and use caution if you are unsure of a corner. 
  • Judge corner camber: When approaching a corner, you should also identify the camber of the road. If the pavement has positive camber — the road slopes into the corner — you will glide more easily through the curve with less lean and enjoy better traction with the road. If the corner has negative camber — the road slopes away from the corner — you may want to take the corner more slowly. Judge corner camber by watching the vanishing point — if the vanishing point is close, the road likely has negative camber, but if the vanishing point is far, the road likely has positive camber.
  • Check road conditions: In slick or wet conditions, you should enter a corner more slowly than normal. You should also check the conditions of the road surface for debris like gravel, sand, mud or oil. If you see skid marks at the entrance of a corner, that may also be a sign that the corner is tighter than it seems.

Creating Cornering Lines

When you look through a corner, you can create an ideal cornering line that allows you to accelerate through the corner, use less lean, experience increased traction, enjoy better control and improve your view of the corner and any hazards that may appear. When riding on the track, using proper cornering lines will help you speed through corners and smoke the competition. One of the most common cornering lines is the outside-inside-outside line. Here is how to execute a basic outside-inside-outside line through a corner:

  1. Begin outside: Enter the corner on the outside edge and continue on the outside as you lean. Stay on the outer edge of the corner until you can see a straight line through the corner to the outside edge of the road on the other side.
  2. Continue inside: Follow that straight line through the inside of the corner, hitting the apex at about the center of the corner.
  3. Finish outside: Accelerate through the corner finishing on the outside of the road again.

This basic cornering line is effective for most single curves but may need to be adjusted when riding through a series of twisties. On a windy road, use an outside-inside-inside line by continuing to hug the inner edge of the corner as you exit. This prepares you to enter the next curve on its outside edge.

How to Handle a Decreasing Radius Corner

When a corner is tighter than you anticipated or reveals a decreasing radius, you may need to adjust your cornering line to properly execute the corner. By paying attention to the vanishing point, you can recognize a tightening corner with plenty of time to change your speed and increase your lean. When faced with a decreasing radius turn:

  1. Lean in to push your bike towards the inside of the corner. You can do this by pushing the inside handlebar downward or by using your outside knee.
  2. Gently engage the rear brake. Using the rear brake to reduce your speed will also help your motorcycle to naturally turn into the corner more.

Best Braking Techniques for Faster Cornering

Another key to cornering faster on a motorcycle is entering the corner at the right speed and in the correct gear. Your braking should be done early enough that you can let off the brakes well before you lean into the corner. You can then enter the corner confidently and open the throttle slowly throughout the corner to accelerate out the other side. When you brake early, you can better control your entry speed and are less likely to brake too hard.

When practicing cornering, allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for the corner as you approach. Try braking even earlier than normal so you can control how much speed you carry into the turn. When you finish breaking earlier, you can better gauge that you are entering the corner faster.

Try this braking technique as you approach a corner:

  1. Apply the rear brake first and the front brake slightly after.
  2. Sit upright further to slow your bike with wind resistance.
  3. Brace your body using your feet, ankles and abdomen, not your arms.
  4. While continuing to brake, move down through each gear until you reach the appropriate gear. The correct gear will allow you to corner comfortably while continually accelerating.
  5. Let off the brakes slowly.
  6. Finish letting off the brakes before you lean into the corner.
  7. As you lean into the corner, adjust your line of vision to where you plan to exit the turn.

Another more advanced motorcycle riding technique for braking for cornering is trail braking. In trail braking, you continue to brake as you lean and enter the corner. As you lean, you release the brakes slowly and transition smoothly to accelerating through the corner. This technique allows you to exit the corner at a higher speed. By braking into the corner, you can also adjust more easily to a decreasing radius turn or surprising hazard. However, trail braking can be difficult to master and can lead to a slide or crash when not executed correctly. When attempting trail braking for the first time, choose a track or familiar road and be sure to gradually transition from brake to throttle.

Accelerating Through the Corner

Once you have braked appropriately and leaned into the corner, begin to open the throttle slowly as you hug the outside of the curve. Slowly and steadily open the throttle through the corner. As you exit the corner and begin to release your lean, increase your acceleration more. As you accelerate out of the corner in a straight line, your bike will naturally straighten up, and you can exit smoothly.

The right speed for a corner will be the speed where you feel the most comfortable while gradually accelerating. If you find yourself letting off the throttle in the middle of the turn, your entry speed was too fast.

When attempting to corner faster on a motorcycle, focus on smoothly opening the throttle and following a good cornering line. When you focus on proper technique, increased speed will come as a bonus. Another effective way to increase your cornering speed and motorcycle cornering confidence is to ride with a friend who is slightly faster than you. When entering a corner, try to match their speed and trust that you can also tackle the corner safely at the same speed.

Emergency Braking in a Corner

If you need to adjust your speed slightly while cornering, gently engage your rear brake as you would when tackling a decreasing radius corner. However, if you encounter an unexpected hazard and need to brake more severely while cornering, pull the clutch and use the front brake as gradually as you can. Shift into first gear so you can dodge any cars coming from behind. Keep pushing your bike into the corner using your outside knee and buttock. Your bike will attempt to straighten up as you brake, so apply some pressure to stay in the turn while successfully emergency braking.

Motorcycle Cornering Body Position Tips

Motorbike cornering position

The last major factor that impacts your cornering speed is your body position. Proper body position while cornering will keep your motorcycle stable by creating a lower center of gravity that is shifted towards the inside of the corner. This also reduces the angle of lean for a given speed. Before you lean in, set up the correct body position so you can transition into the lean more smoothly. When your body is already in the correct motorcycle cornering body position, your bike will drop quickly into a lean when you initiate. When attempting this for the first time, experiment carefully as your bike will turn much more easily.

When leaning in for a corner, shift your weight inside to lean the bike. You may also push your outside knee against the motorcycle's tank. When turning to the right, use your left buttock to push the motorcycle to the right, and reverse this when turning to the left. For a tightening corner, you may also push against the inside handlebar to increase your lean.

There are the three basic body positions that you can use while cornering. As you become more experienced, you may advance through these positions and hang your body further off of your bike as you lean.

1. Basic Body Position

The basic position is best for riding on roads and is suitable for normal street speeds. To execute this position, lean your upper body slightly off the center line of the motorcycle towards the inside of the corner. You can remain seated while you dip your inside shoulder low and look through the corner. Position your face like you are about to kiss your mirror to create the correct line of vision. Simple and not intimidating, this is the perfect position for motorcycle cornering for beginners who are just getting used to hanging off of their bike.

2. Intermediate Body Position

This slightly more advanced positioning incorporates your hips as well as your torso. Lean your upper body as you would in the basic body position and rock onto your inside buttock just before the corner. Your inside buttock should support most of your body weight, providing more stability on windy roads. This position sets you up perfectly to countersteer — push the inside handlebar with your inside arm and shoulder while letting your outside arm extend and relax slightly. When riding on the streets, this is the highest level of lean you should attempt.

3. Advanced Body Position

The advanced body position is for the track only and can be difficult to master. But when executed properly, this position can allow you to reach the high cornering speed many riders dream of achieving. To execute this position, begin by shifting your weight to the balls of your feet. Lift your body off the seat using your legs and position your butt on the inside edge of the seat. Lean in with your head and shoulders like you are kissing the mirror and keep your hips perpendicular to your bike.

Leave a few inches between the fuel tank and your crotch as you rest your outside thigh against the tank. A little more than half of your weight should be supported by your inside foot and the rest by your legs and torso. Relax your arms and rest your outside arm on top of your tank. If executed correctly, you will be able to move laterally across your bike without rotating your hips into the "crossed" body position. This aggressive riding position allows you to corner faster without dragging any hard parts of your bike.

Knee Dragging

On the track, riders strive to take the advanced body position to the next level with knee dragging. Seen as a rite of passage among serious racers and sportbike riders, knee dragging lets you take corners even faster and more safely. With knee dragging, you can bump up your entry speed by shifting your center of gravity further into the corner and using less bike lean. The pressure on your knee puck can help you better track your lean angle for more controlled cornering. As an advanced motorcycle riding technique, knee dragging is an invaluable tool for the track and a formidable achievement for aspiring racers.


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