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Tips on cornering...(11 posts)

Tips on cornering...timfire
Jan 25, 2003 7:26 AM
I've been trying to improve my cornering, and would like some tips.

First, though, I would like to know what is considered a tight turn. For lack of any other reference, if you were riding in the center of the right lane of a road (no shoulder) and making a right turn, what lane could you turn into and at what speed.

At 17mph, I have trouble turning any tighter than the second to right lane without slowing down (I hope you can follow). Any tighter or faster and I start feeling insecure. Is it just me? I ride a Jamis Quest, which has a slightly longer wheelbase, a 73 degree headtube, 43 fork rake, a sorta middle-level BB, and 175 cranks. I never feel like I'm close to hitting my pedals on the ground.

I've found that lightening my handlebars help (by supporting my weight with my back more).

Thanks in advance,

--Tim Kleinert
One word: counter-steering ....hmmm...or is that two words?PaulCL
Jan 25, 2003 7:45 AM

If you want to read about it, buy Davis Phinney's book. Just do a search on 'Phinney' on

The idea of countersteering is to have your bike make the turn for you as opposed to your body pushing it. When entering a left hand turn in the drops, tuck the left knee against the top tube, the right leg bolt straight actually pushing down hard on the outside pedal. Your left arm should be straight or slightly bent, while your right is bent maintaining bike control. The idea is to keep your center of balance over the bottom bracket.

This is the opposite of a motorcycle. With a motorcycle, with those fat tires and higher speeds, you lean into the turn. With a bike, let the bike do the leaning, not your body.

I'm sure I'll be corrected somewhat on technique, but that's the basic idea. I learned countersteering at the Carpenter/Phinney bikecamp. It literally saved my life on a 50mph decent down Loveland pass as a semi crossed the center line on a switchback turn. I had two choices: fly off the mountain and sprout wings or do my countersteering thing and slice the turn. Damn it worked! I was riding with Phil Liggett's wife, Pat, who had to do the same thing behind me. We were both at once thrilled, relieved and pissed off.

Try it. Paul
Jan 25, 2003 5:27 PM
This sounds like a cool technique. I have not used it. I try to get speed, brake before entering the turn and then just feel the bike and lean into the turn.

With the technique you just described how are you sitting on the saddle? Are you a little cock-eyed on the saddle?

Jan 26, 2003 1:35 PM
I'm holding my butt slightly off the saddle. I use my inner thighs against the saddle to help support myself and the bike. By pushing down on the outside leg - and I mean pushing down hard - you automatically lift yourself off the saddle.

At the C/P bikecamp, Davis Phinney and Ron Keifel set up a series of small orange cones in a large circle for practice. At very slow speed, and one half crank in between each cone, we went around the circle. It is SO difficult to put that knee against the toptube. Instinctively, I don't want to do it. But I learned. Paul
main things to doTig
Jan 25, 2003 8:39 AM
I like Davis Phinney's method and will point out a few of the main parts.

Extend the outside leg and put your weight on it (like carving a turn snow skiing). A slight bend works well for fine tuning.

Unlike knee dragging on a motorcycle, keep the inside knee in. Pressing the inside knee against the top tube somehow makes the turn work better than anything else you could do with it.

Keep arms bent. Some people like to put a slight forward pressure on the inside bar. The bike will lean a little more than the body, but not so much that you are upright while the bike is leaned way out under you.

There are other details, but work on the main components first.
Emphasize the pressure on the inside barKerry Irons
Jan 25, 2003 6:55 PM
Though it seems counter-intuitive to many, the more forward pressure you put on the inside bar, the sharper the turn. This is the essence of counter-steering, regardless of your position on the bike. Try it in low speed turns and you'll be amazed at the effect. It works the same in high speed turns, but is just more subtle.
re: Tips on cornering...desmo
Jan 25, 2003 9:16 AM
Countersteering is the correct technique, and finding a comfortable position is whatever works for you (I still stick my inner knee out from years of motorcycling). "Insecurity" is mental, as panic is the limiting factor to high speed cornering. Try looking through the corner to the exit, your body (and bike) will go where your eyes go. Never look down at the road or into the apex. Looking down at the asphalt wizzing by induces panic, looking up at the exit of the corner "slows" everything down and lets you relax.
re: Tips on cornering...jrm
Jan 25, 2003 9:50 AM
As you enter the corner, scrub speed before entering the corner and not through it or into the middle of it. Then enter the corner wide, at the middle of the corner you'll be at the innermost part of the corner and then exit wide. if the corners radius isn't constant then you'll find ways to enter wide and exit inside or enter inside and exit wide.

IMO: the best position to be in is OUT of the saddle, hovering over the bike with the cranks level. This gives me more control when reacting to unseen dangers, road conditions, and drifts then sitting on the saddle and simply turning the bar to redirect the bike. Its a unorthodox method for riding the road that comes from riding dirt but when I'm hauling i have to be in control and this is my way.
re: Tips on cornering...berstarr
Jan 25, 2003 12:38 PM
All the above techniques can help you to learn to be faster and more relaxed through corners. When I started serious club riding, the group I joined sponsored workshops, where you could go out and learn/practice basic techniques. The one on cornering was an eye opener. Everyone has taken lots of corners, but going out and practicing on the same corner over and over brings some quick and satisfying rewards. Basically we would get up some serious speed, brake coming in; outside pedal weighted and down; then accelerate out. After 5 or 6 times, you get a good feel for the new techniques and adjust each time. By that time I was flying into the corner and often able to pedal all the way through at speed. Really, you have to try this. Understanding the process in your head is one thing. Some focused practice can get you there fast.
Practice unclipping inside pedalpeter in NVA
Jan 25, 2003 2:02 PM
I don't have natural bike handling skills, so this helped me a lot. It forced me to figure out a kind of counter steering by swinging the hips, just like skiing. I do it all the time on my cross bike in mud, you really learn where the balance point of your bike is.
Read this essay...Breakfast
Jan 25, 2003 8:12 PM
...found on this website:

From the list on the right side of the page, scroll down about halfway to the page titled "Riding Discipline" and click on it and read the essay on cornering.

Also, my own advice is to spend some time in a parking lot riding at a super slow, barely moving speed while attempting to balance and turn the tightest possible arc with the rear wheel tracing a consistent small circle going in both directions, left and right. You'd be surprised what this drill can teach you.