So you’re pretty good at cornering. You understand the fundamentals of cornering, your body position consistently matches that of the INTERMEDIATE riding position and you are looking to progress to the next level.
For the purpose of this website, and the type of riding we do, we are not going to go into HANGING OFF the side of your bike to ride ON THE EDGE or on the track.
So how can I improve cornering then?
If you want to improve cornering on your motorcycle, don’t focus on your cornering speed but rather your timing, accuracy AND smoothness. Once you’ve mastered this in accordance with your BASIC and INTERMEDIATE cornering skills, it comes down to one thing – your APPROACH to a corner.
A very high percentage of riders have a problem when “approaching” a corner or curve.
APPROACHING consists of five things:
1: Slowing down
2: Choosing the Line
3: Turning-in (leaning) AND THEN, it continues to…
5: Exiting with Acceleration
Again…the most important part is….”Never focus on speed but accuracy and smoothness”.
So why do most riders struggle with their approach? It’s their braking technique. As you know, before you make a turn, you’ve got to adjust speed and posture. Let’s talk about good braking technique.
The steps for braking on APPROACHING a corner are as follows
- See and judge the corner ahead.
- Veer to the outside of the lane.
- Consider your desired riding position for the curve ahead.
- Start applying REAR BRAKE first.
- Start applying FRONT BRAKE slightly after the REAR.
- Bring your body upright a little, even at a slower speed-range, to use wind resistance.
- Momentum will move your body forward as you apply braking, so adjust the weight balance of front & back.
- Brace your body with your abs and your feet (around the ankle)…NEVER brace with your arms.
- Gear down one gear at a time and apply both front and back brakes simultaneously.
- Finish adjusting speed before getting to the “turn-in” (start leaning) zone.
- Just before entering the “turn-in” zone, turn your HEAD & CHEST towards the exit of corner….prepare for leaning.
Time to corner
The time of executing steps 1~11 will take only 2~3 seconds. Let’s make it 3 seconds, for example, here are some math calculations.
- If you’re riding on the highway at 100 km/h, your speed will give you approximately 30 metres/sec to do all the steps. So, start preparing the above 1~11 skills, 90 metres before the corner.
- If riding at 80 km/h, your speed will give you about 24 metres/sec, so start preparing the above 1~11 skills 72 meters before the corner.
- If riding at 60 km/h, you have 18metres/sec so start preparing at 54 metres before the corner.
Why apply rear brake before the front?
When you want to brake with the shortest possible braking distance, you start by using the rear brake. Of course, you don’t slam it. In fact, you only use the rear brake to start a process of shifting weight from the rear to the front wheel. This will cause the springs to contract, which will decrease the chance of a lifting rear wheel, and ultimately a lock-up.
By using the rear brake first, there is already more weight on the front wheel at the moment that you start using the front brake. Because of that, you can squeeze the front brake harder than when you would have started braking with the front brake.
But even then, it is not advisable to squeeze the front brake as hard as you can, at least not in the beginning. You should start gently and then squeeze on while the weight keeps shifting to the front, because the grip of the front wheel will then be at its best.
With a lot of speed, you will be able to brake really hard: because of the high speed, shifting the weight to the front will take place with speed as well, and that means that you can start squeezing the front brake earlier.
When you ride fast, even sitting upright will decelerate the bike considerately. On the other side, the same resistance of the air will slow down the shifting of the weight to the front, so even then, start using the rear brake.
Release rear brake
At the moment that you can use start to squeeze the front brake, the opposite is true for the rear brake as there is almost no weight on the rear wheel. So, after touching the rear brake to start the weight shift, either let if off completely or ‘modulate/feather’ it to avoid any rear wheel lockup.