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Cornering (Part 4) – Linking bends

In this 4 part blog, I explain all aspects of cornering, for all levels of riding. In this section, the final section, I will talk about linking bends. There are three previous blogs, where I cover Vision and Planning, Speed and Braking and Counter Steering. I recommend you read those first before continuing.

Up until this point, as you approach the bend, you should have:

  • ●  Gathered all the information available to you
  • ●  Decided the severity of the bend
  • ●  Slowed down to an appropriate speed before the bend
  • ●  Changed down to an appropriate gear before the bend
  • ●  Counter steered around the bend

Safety over position

Whether you’re a learner rider or you have moved onto an advanced level, you’ll know position plays a big part in cornering. It is important to remember that no matter what you may have heard about ‘holding your line’ your safety always comes first.

For learners, I recommend staying in the centre of the lane, but this is not rigid. If you see a problem with the road surface, or there’s a hazard, you must have some flexibility to move position or slow down. Remember the road surface is your braking surface.

When cornering at any level, if there’s a road surface problem on your line (the line is the position you take up on the road), always move to the nearside (kerb). Imagine moving to the offside (closest to oncoming traffic) of the road surface problem. Let’s say a manhole cover for example, then being faced with a large vehicle coming the other way? You’ve moved out the way of a potentially minor problem and now put yourself in a more dangerous position, through lack of planning.

For advanced riders there are more alterations you can make to your position prior to going into a corner, however, to keep things simple, I won’t be talking about them here. If you want to know more about positioning for bends, I strongly recommend further training.

Positive throttle

When you ride the bend and counter steer, you shouldn’t need to adjust your speed. If this is done right, your throttle will be maintained at a constant speed, so not completely off, but not on either. This is known as a positive throttle. If this isn’t set before the bend you could end up

sitting the bike up (throttle on) and then back down (throttle off) as you go around the bend, this is known as fifty pence piecing.

Hitting the apex

The apex is the point in the bend where the lean angle is at its greatest. In other words, the part where your bike is leaning the furthest into the bend. It’s not until you’ve reached this point, that you can consider putting the throttle back to exit the bend.

Exit and vision

Once you can see where the bend is going, you can start to plan the next section of road. Usually when you’ve reached the apex, the view of the road ahead starts to open up. It’s at this point, our speed can potentially be adjusted.

Throttling on

Often riders have timing and delivery issues when throttling back on to exit a bend. They either put the power on too early, which pushes the bike out wide (and sits the bike back up) or they put the throttle on too late.

Throttling on at the right time is definitely a skill in itself. It took me a long time to perfect this. However when you get this right, you will be leaving the corner quicker than the speed you entered, if you’re in a responsive gear. Remember “slow in, fast out”.

If you’re in a responsive gear, your throttle will be a little on the twitchy side if you’re not used to it. So don’t attempt to pull the throttle on aggressively, or it could leave you feeling out of control.

Throttle sense

Throttle sense is an important part of riding and I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on it. Power delivery is about being super accurate and delicate. Nothing is aggressive or rushed. If you ever try to ride your bike with aggression or in a rush, you’re bound to have problems.

Think about how you hold the throttle too, make sure your wrist is flat and on the same angle as your knuckles. Riders often hook their wrist up, which is known as cocking the wrist. This will encourage way too much throttle without meaning to.

Plan ahead

When riding, it’s important to plan ahead and I have talked about the importance of this during the first part of this edit, called Vision and Planning. However, this is about being able to move from one bend to another smoothly and seamlessly. See the bend; adjust your position (as an

advanced rider), adjust your speed and gears and ride the bend at a speed that’s appropriate for YOUR ability. The more comfortable you feel at cornering at a slower pace, the more time you’ll have to focus on the next piece in the puzzle. The next bend. If you are wound up or anxious about going into a bend, the chances are your eyes will not be where they should – spotting where the road goes next.

So after you’ve hit the apex and before you throttle on, decide how much power you need. If there’s another bend, do you need so much power that you will need to anchor on the brakes in the next few seconds?

The next bend

Quite often if there’s a series of bends, there’ll be a warning triangle for an S bend or the paint work on the road will remain solid, for example. Do you ever look at the paint work on the road to help you read the road? What about chevron markers? Cars in front braking? Vehicles coming the other way – can you see the roofs of their vehicles over the hedges? These are all clues to help us work out whether there are any more bends in the road.

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