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Faster cornering – Lean the bike, the body or both?(7 posts)

Faster cornering – Lean the bike, the body or both?nn23
Aug 19, 2002 1:02 PM
Till recently I would do what came naturally – lean with the bike. However in order to improve my cornering skills, I’ve been experimenting with leaning just the bike on the turns, for the past few weeks. While I feel faster on the turns, I haven’t been able to quantify it, so am unsure if this is purely psychological or am I actually faster.

How do you corner, when negotiating turns at high speeds (relative for the turn)?

a] Do you lean your body into the turn with the bike OR
b] Do you try to stay perpendicular to the ground while leaning just the bike?
c] other

Which is faster ?
leaning the bike and not the body = traction problemsTig
Aug 19, 2002 1:38 PM
You increase your chance of sliding a tire if you only lean your bike during a fast corner. I get faster, more secure results from leaning the bike naturally while placing the hips on the inside of the turn. I used to stick the inside knee out (habit from my knee-dragging motorcycle days) but have improved by placing the inside knee against the top tube instead (thanks, Davis Phinney!). I noticed I can corner at faster speeds and don't have to use the brakes nearly as much as other methods I've used in the past.

Here's a simple breakdown: Hands in the drops, elbows bent. Keep the outside leg straight with plenty of weight on it. Press the inside knee lightly against the top tube while slightly twisting your hips to place your torso a little towards the inside of the curve. Your outside leg's inner thigh should end up pressing against the saddle's nose. The inside elbow will be bent more than the outside one.

Play around with it and see if it helps. I also run my 23 width tires closer to 100 psi than their rated 120 psi. The increased traction and comfort far outweigh the ever so slight loss of rolling resistance!
Aug 19, 2002 2:33 PM
the whole point of countersteering is that by keeping your body's center of gravity largely upright (i.e., by standing on the outside pedal and weighting it) you can lean the bike while still driving the tire into the pavement vertically.

Leaning the body AND bike a la motorcycle racing is a recipe for skidding the back tire out from under you.

I think your countersteering description is good but I'm confused by your remark about leaning the bike and not the body as a risk of sliding.
I was thinking more about wet conditions tractionTig
Aug 19, 2002 2:46 PM
Sorry, my mind was still caught in Saturday's wet ride! Try leaning the bike and not the body in the rain or on loose gravel and you'll go down fast.

I should have said to try to keep the body somewhat aligned with the bike, as in both sharing the similar lean angles. It sounded like I was leaning too much inside the turn by my description. The hip twist is very subtle. However, you won't catch me counter steering with the body mostly upright while the bike is leaning except to quickly dodge unseen glass or an obstacle.
I was thinking more about wet conditions tractionnn23
Aug 19, 2002 3:46 PM
FWIW: I picked up the idea of leaning the bike and not the body from the book "The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: Seven Weeks to the Perfect Ride" . Which is why I tried it. Seems some of the rides in the NYC race seem to be leaning the bike more than the body
Only lean the bike as much as absolutely necessary.Quack
Aug 20, 2002 6:36 AM
I will typically try and keep the frame as upright as possible while keeping my body to the inside of a corner and weighting the outside pedal. I also tend to steer through corners. One added bonus is that if your front wheel starts sliding, you don't crash, you just drift off your line slightly and take out the three guys on the outside that entered wide and apexed their turns at max lean.

OK, so maybe it's not the the best technique to use in a crowd when everyone's leaning in, but it will get allow you to pedal around reasonably fast corners where you would normally just put your inside pedal up and lean. This is also very effective in the rain. You haven't lived until you've drifted both wheels a few feet off line and still maintained control. The first time you do it, you will go back and look at your tire marks to see how far. That is after you clean out your shorts.

Bottom line I guess is do what works for you, try them all and watch corner speeds on your speedo. Another good gauge is if you are dropping guys on corners during training rides.
body with bikeoff roadie
Aug 20, 2002 7:54 AM
The basic physics of the situation seem to suggest no reason NOT to keep your body over the bike. A cornering bike uses "centrifugal" foce to balance the inword lean. Necessarily, the two must balance out. If you alter your posture, you alter where your CG is, but its still just going to balance the cornering force, assuming you keep the same line.

Leaning one more than the other is equivalent to riding down the road with the bike angled to one side and your body to the other- you could do it, but is it a good idea? Might as well keep all the force over the bike, to avoid lateral strain on the wheel. Leaning the bike more or less than the body will alter what part of the tire contacts the ground, and most road tires seem designed for the lean angles "body of bike" cornering would produce. Keeping the bike upright would in fact be counter-productive with tires that are harder in the center and "grippier" on the sides.

There's a few cases I can think of where this would not apply, and you would want the bike more upright, but neither is suitable to fast cornering anyhow. On bumpy surfaces, you can maybe avoid lateral loads from bumps by keeping the bike more upright while turning. On slipery surfaces, everybody says to keep the bike upright, simply because it allows more rapid recovery.

I also can't think of any cases where its faster to keep your body upright and lean just the bike. Sometimes when on tight off road trails (or maybe a crowded peloton?), there's not room to lean any other way, but that's more of a manuevering trick than for speed. You might think the variable compound tire designs I mentioned would benefit from such cornering, but if your lean angle is naturally low, the turn is obviously so slow or gradual that you don't really need the extra grip. The only reason I think people do this is because leaning tier body into a turn at high speed scares them, and they are used to riding in cars where your body stays upright through a turn, no matter how fast.