After following the tips below, you should be cornering like this:
Here is how you should handle the corners on your bike:
1. Steer with your eyes
“Look at where you are going next, not where you are now.”
If you are looking in the wrong place, like a wall or a curb, then guess what you are going to hit. Your eyes should always be looking around the corner to where you are going.
Your head should also be in line with the stem as your head’s position affects your bike’s movement. As if by magic, the bike will follow your eyes.
2. Take a correct line into the corner
The path you take into the corner will depend on speed, road and weather conditions. But as a general rule of thumb, choose the apex when cornering.
Use your body weight and body position which involves moving on the saddle generally back, and slightly to the side that you are cornering on. At the same time, point your knees in the direction of the corner.
This keeps all the down forces of the bike optimal, which means you can carry your speed safely through the corner. Also, always be aware of your position relative to everyone else/ other riders as you are going into a corner, making sure you are not impeding anyone at the same time.
A good example taking a corner wrongly was Philippe Gilbert, a professional cyclist from Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team. This happened during Stage 16 of Tour De France. He took too tight a line into the corner and realised he had nowhere to go but hit the brakes and hope for the best.
3. Correct gear into the corner
As you are approaching the corner, it is good idea to shift up to an easier gear so that you can accelerate after exiting the corner and back up to your cruising speed. It is not just coming into the corner; it is also exiting the corner where shifting gears are going to be useful.
A sweeping bend and 180-degree turn will have a different gear selection because of the relative speed lost. You may not need to shift gears if you are taking a sweeping bend, but in the case of a 180-degree turn, shifting two to three gears may be appropriate.
Time and practice will help you to decide what is the best gear selection for you.
4. Feather the brakes before cornering
“Brake with both hands on, both hands off.”
You may need to take a slight amount of speed off the bike, so feather the brakes – a light tap or two on both brakes – to adjust the speed to something that is safe and controlable.
Both hands should be feathering the brakes at the same time. Sometimes you need to take a little bit of speed off as you come to a corner, but at the same time, you don’t want to interrupt the momentum you have, so this involves a slight adjustment of the speed by feathering the brakes.
5. Feet position
Keep your feet in the 3-9 o’clock position, or the 12-6 o’clock position, with the higher foot on the leaning side. Keep the inside pedal up so that it doesn’t touch the ground. If you are in the 12-6 o’clock position, apply pressure to the outer pedal. This will help you retain your balance as you lean into the corner.
Being in the 3-9 o’clock position allows you to reengage the momentum quickly to continue pedalling after you come out of the corner. Also, if you are leaning over, the best practice for the majority is not to pedal through the corner. If not, you risk hitting the pedal onto the ground.
6. Slide back on the saddle when you are cornering
Use the full length of the saddle to move the centre of gravity to the back of the bike. This still applies to emergency braking.
Point your knee on the cornering side in the direction you want to go. This will change the balance of the bike. Having a correct body position will optimise all the forces for maximum grip around the corner.
7. Go on the drops
Drills to improve your cornering skills
Figure of 8
The is probably the toughest of all, but it is a fundamental skill you should master. It forces you to be able to manoeuvre the bike at a slow speed.
Place two cones or drink bottles 10 metres apart and ride a figure of 8. Focus on using your eyes to turn and always be aware of your leg and body position.
Practice your turns and acceleration out of a corner in a quiet carpark.
With more practice, you will build up your confidence when cornering.
I conduct regular bike handling skills, if you would like to find out more about my classes, please contact me either on Instagram or Facebook.
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