- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 19 September 2014
Cornering is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging (yet one of the most rewarding) motorbike maneuvers; whether it's a hairpin bend or a slight curve in the road, it takes plenty of practice to master the technique.
If you ride a superbike, mastering a corner takes even more practice, as you've got oodles of power to contend with. With this in mind, below are a few helpful cornering tips.
Every superbike is different, which means you need to take the time to understand your vehicle's individual characteristics. When it comes to leaning, this means you need to determine your lean angle. Don't try to emulate the angle achieved in professional superbike racing as that's a whole other ball game – the bikes are generally lighter, the riders are professionally trained and they are all going in the same direction. Leaning off your machine is also frowned upon by the Police and commits you to a corner in a way that reduces your ability to correct errors. That's all very well on a circuit with runoffs and one-way traffic! Experimenting with different angles will allow you to determine the limit between your strength and your bike.
When it comes to taking on the corner, reduce your speed on approach and decide on the path or line to follow when you're in the corner, remembering to keep your eyes on where you want to be. Slow down to the right speed and change gears before entering the corner (never brake or change gears while cornering). Keep your head vertical while leaning your body into the turn, ensuring your arms are relaxed and parallel to the road. As you come out of the corner, gently accelerate and begin to move the bike to an upright position.
If your line is clear, position your bike correctly on approach to the corner. This means moving to the left-hand side of your road for right-hand bends, or nearer the centre for left-hand bends (ensuring you don't cross the central white line unless it's safe to do so). It's important to never position your machine too far over as this is dangerous and may make other road users nervous.
When riding on the Queen's Highway the 'angle of the dangle' is absolutely crucial to your safety. For example, if your tyre is running just to the left of the white lines on a right hander your head will dangle over the other side of the road and will likely be in line with the bumpers of oncoming trucks. Conversely, on left handers you'll find your head smacking off street furniture if your tyre is running near the gutter.
Obviously, it's important to keep your eyes fixed on what's ahead of you, focusing on where you need to be. But, you also need to be conscious of your surroundings – pedestrians, other vehicles that may overtake, vehicles coming towards you, obstructions on or near the road, and anything else that could possibly affect your cornering line.
As mentioned before, you should avoid braking or shifting gear while cornering. It's vital to get your speed right on entry to the corner. Braking mid-corner requires you to stand the bike up slightly. This will drastically alter the direction of the bike, which will impact your cornering path and may cause you to run wide. On the other hand, rolling the power off can make the bike dive into the corner more sharply. Ideally, all braking should be done in a straight line. This becomes more important if the road surface is wet, painted (white lines) or of poor condition.
It's best not to accelerate at all when cornering, but if you find the bike needing a little more power to get it through, be extremely gentle of the throttle. Sudden, vigorous acceleration can result in the back wheel kicking out which can be very dangerous. Acceleration can help to bring the bike upright if you've found your angle leaves you a little too low. It's a fine balancing act between ideal speed and ideal angle.
Camber angles on the road can help you on left-hand bends but conversely may work against you on right-hand bends. This is why it's vital to assess the road you're riding on; selecting the most suitable speed, position and gear for the upcoming corner.
The old mantra for all driving and riding remains true for handling a superbike in the corners – enter slow, exit fast. To what extent this applies is largely down to the road conditions, obstacles, other road users and your own skill as a rider. Slowly build up your observation and riding skills and you'll safely increase your abilities in the corners without risking throwing your machine into the scenery.
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