Rowe & King Coaching: How to improve your cornering and bike handling

Put simply, if you ride a bike, you will need to be able to go around bends – a skill known as cornering. It is not always a case of approach, knee out (like the Moto GP boys) and bank your bike over – this may work on some occasions, but it is certain you will end up lying horizontal on the tarmac sooner or later.

Being able to corner is fundamental to performance on a bike, but also from a safety point of view too. Most crashes occur when a rider has an obstacle to navigate around, whether that be another cyclist, a corner or some sort of road furniture – in all cases, being able to change direction, in a controlled manner is going to improve your chances of both staying upright, but also being in the right place at the right time.

There are three main techniques used for cornering and generally changing direction on a bike, as follows;

1. Leaning

bike handling

Best used for – sweeping turns, on a dry road.

How to – lean both your bike and body into the turn, focus on the apex, keep your inside leg up and keep your weight on your outside pedal. If the bend is a wide, sweeping turn, you may be able to pedal through the turn, but be careful not to clip your pedal on the ground!

2. Countersteering

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Best used for – tight turns and any corner that has more than one apex, i.e. a chicane.

How to – stop pedalling as you enter the turn, ensure your inside pedal is up and put your weight on your outside pedal. Your arm should be straight on the inside of the turn and have a slight bend on the outside. You must be carrying some speed when you try this type of turn (for gyroscopic reasons) – ideally around 20mph or faster.
The coutersteering method is great for changing direction quickly, for example if going in to a corner, there are a series of potholes or obstacles on the exit.

3. Steering

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Best used for – cornering in the wet or on a poor road surface to safely get round a corner

How to – the bike should be kept upright, while leaning only your body. You can pinch your top tube with your knees to keep your weight central – don’t stick your knee out the corner. The steering method of cornering is usually associated with slower speed turns.

Pictured below – James LLewellyn, mid 90 degree fast sweeping bend. Notice he is using the ‘Leaning’ cornering method – leaning in to the bend, inside pedal up and weight on the outside foot.

bike handling