So you are now cornering with confidence?
- You are braking and gearing down before the curve & while you are upright.
- You are leaning-in from the outside of the curve.
- You are maintaining a slightly open throttle as you look for the ‘apex’.
- You counter-steer at the apex and accelerate smoothly out of the curve.
- You exit towards the outside of the curve.
Now you can look to improving you cornering with these techniques.
Body position has an additional benefit of encouraging interaction between you, the bike, and the road.
Move your body through a series of curves by positioning your body to the inside of your motorcycle so that the motorcycle does not have to lean as far for a given speed and turn radius. Lead with your eyes and shoulders and your motorcycle will willingly follow your lead.
Active body positioning isn’t just for sport bike riders. Use it on whatever motorcycle you ride.
Levels of Body Positioning
The BASIC position
Use the basic body position for typical street speeds. This position involves simply leaning your upper body off-center, towards the inside of the turn. Keep your inside shoulder low and forward while your eyes look through the curve. Your butt stays more-or-less centered on the seat.
The basic position is easy to do and is not intimidating, making it good for people just learning to hang off.
The INTERMEDIATE position
Learning this is quite simple. All you have to do is lean your upper body into the turn while rocking your hips so your inside sit-bone supports most of your weight. Rocking onto your inside butt cheek just before the corner positions your arms perfectly to counter-steer with your inside arm and shoulder pressuring on the inside handlebar and your outside arm slightly extended and relaxed.
This is a very simple and effective technique.
The FULL HANG OFF position (refer to the ADVANCED cornering techniques)
The full hang off position allows the most aggressive riders to achieve faster corner speed without dragging hard parts. Hanging off has a lot of benefits, but can cause problems if not done correctly.
Correct v Incorrect Body positioning
These three riders are keeping their upper bodies aligned (in balance) with the dynamic G force. This sends a signal of “comfort/assurance” to the brain which prevents the triggering of panic/survival reactions.
The rider on the far right is going faster, so he actually has to hang to one side to stay aligned with G while preventing his bike from leaning too low.
BASIC INTERMEDIATE HANG-OFF
The riders below are positioning their upper bodies out of alignment from the G force… to the outside of the curve! By doing this, their brains have to fight a sense of unbalance which can very easily trigger the survival reactions.
Looking through the Turn
On a bike, if you look either down or right in front of you, your brain will think that you are going way faster than you really are and automatically enter into ‘panic’ mode. The best way to avoid this erroneous sense of speed is to raise your sight and look ahead, towards the exit of the turn.
This will not only prevent your brain from picking up an erroneous sense of speed but it will also help prepare all the movements that your body needs to make in order to exit the curve safely.
PRACTICAL TIP: Every time you enter a curve, imagine there is a fish hook in your cheek, pulling hard towards the exit of the curve. So not only your eyes are “looking” but your whole head is pointing in the right direction.
In the pictures above showing the BASIC & INTERMEDIATE riding positions, you can see the rider is looking through the curve just by his head position.
So, regardless of your speed, LOOK THROUGH THE TURN! This technique will also help to eliminate ‘Target Fixation’ as you are focusing past the curve exit and beyond.
How should it feel?
To avoid panicking in the middle of a turn, keep your arms and body relaxed. The only muscles that need to be really engaged are your torso ones – to keep you from tightening your arms on the bars – everything else should be loose and happy. Oh, and KEEP BREATHING through the turn, seriously do not hold your breath!
So, to summarise the INTERMEDIATE cornering techniques, we simply focused on body position:
- Relax your body.
- Look through the turn, exaggeratedly.
- Transfer your body weight to the butt cheek that’s inside the turn (this little tip makes a huge difference).
- Lean your upper torso a bit to the inside of the curve and to the point where your body feels in balance with the G forces acting on your body.
- Keep relaxed, looking through the turn and breathing until you exit the turn.
- Smile inside your helmet 🙂
By doing the above you will feel much more confident in the curves and your mind will be clear to react in case a line correction is needed (but since most corrections are caused by panic reactions, it is very likely that you will just enjoy a nice, clean and relaxed curve).
Ride safe and remember, practice makes perfect.
Final Safety Note: Riding alone will remove any pressure that is placed upon you by other riders in your pack. This will allow you to focus specifically on all elements of how to corner on a motorcycle without having to worry about keeping up or holding up others stuck behind you. Riding alone may also involve finding those quieter roads without other vehicles, or riding mid-week when others are at work. If this is not possible for you then try riding as the sweeper at the tail end of your group where you can practice your form at your own speed.