Wednesday, January 21, 2009

10 Tips for Fast Cornering on a Bike

When I first began cycling, I felt nervous about cornering on descents and so felt of myself as a ‘bad descender’. However, over time, you imperceptibly pick up on how to corner, learning to understand how you can corner faster without risking falling off.

1. Practise on Hills You know well.

On hills that you use regularly, try each time to apply the brakes a little less. This is the best way of gaining more confidence to descend quicker. Gradually, you realise a reasonable speed for descending corners.

2. Braking before a tight turn.

It can be dangerous applying brakes in the middle of a tight turn, you can easily lose balance. It is better to begin braking before the turn and then accelerate out of the turn.

3. Use Both Brakes.

Braking lightly with both brakes is more effective than pressing hard on front or rear brakes. It is good to also try and use the on off technique. This prevents brakes overheating, useful for long descents.

4. Lean the Bike.

This takes a bit of practice but, if you lean the bike into a corner, you will be surprised at how much you can corner without the need to brake. Leaning the bike is much better than just leaning the body.

5. Ride With Experienced Riders.

If you ride with quick descenders you will gain an idea of how to descend. You could try following their ‘race line’; not necessarily at their speed, but you will get confidence from following their descent.

6. Push Down on the Tyres.

If cornering in the rain it is good to push down on the tyres to provide a better grip.

7. Use Body to Slow Down.

If you sit upright the air resistance provides a natural braking mechanism. This can be better than using brakes, especially on corners. As you sit up, also press down on the brakes.

8. Best Line.

It is important to understand the best line to take on a descent. This involves anticipating corners and moving into position to reduce the curve of the bend. To get the best line it is necessary that the road behind is clear, to enable you to move out into the middle of the road before cutting back in.

9. Avoid Taking Unnecessary Risks.

Even in a race, I would rather lose the odd second than end up in casualty with a broken leg. If it is wet, I take hills much slower. The potential gains of going quick are much less than the potential cost of taking that extra risk. If I was a professional cyclist I would probably have a different attitude.

10. Pressing inside knee on Top Tube.

If you press the inside knee on the top tube, it creates greater stability when you corner. Instinctively people often push out the knee, like a motorcycle race, but this actually creates greater instability.

11. Practice with disc Wheels.

If you are a time trialist and race with disc wheels, you will notice it is more difficult to handle with a disc wheel and time trial bars. This is why it is important to get used to riding a time trial bike in training.

In my opinion, most of the best style & technique of cornering can be seen in MotoGP race except that the inside knee should be pressed to the top tube (as per #10) instead of push it out like the motorcycle racer always do. But be extra careful when you are carrying panniers. In normal case, when you are on descent, with the extra load, you might be going very fast. Therefore, the best option is always to sit upright & slow down by hitting both front & rear brakes when you are approaching the tight corner. Better be save than sorry! - mattouring.

Source: Cycling Info / photo from

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