How to Accelerate When Cornering On a Motorcycle
The Acceleration Phase is the final part of the “System of Motorcycle Control”, but it is always overlapped by the Information Phase which is constantly changing.
Contrary to common belief, the Acceleration Phase can work in both directions. The throttle can be turned off (closed) as well as being turned on (opened). The third way of using the throttle correctly is by maintaining the desired speed.
Acceleration in the mnemonic IPSGA does not give a rider the green light to go faster when they get to the final phase of the System.
Being able to adopt the correct acceleration process during this phase means you must select the correct speed and gear as you approach. The correct speed is one where you feel in full control and happy to negotiate the hazard ahead. The correct gear will help to reduce speed and means that the bike is in a responsive state ready to control the speed with the throttle rather than using the brakes.
It is imperative that before reaching the hazard the correct speed and gear are selected, so that the identified hazard can be dealt with safely before accelerating away afterwards when it is safe to do so.
The Hazard is not part of the written System of Motorcycle Control but is an important and integral part of the system and the reason why so long is spent preparing the motorcycle on approach.
A hazard is anything that causes you to change speed or direction, it can be permanent, temporary, actual or potential.
A permanent hazard will always be in the same place, regardless of the weather or any other condition. Roundabouts, junctions, bends and hills are good examples of permanent hazards. The same journey on a daily basis results in the same hazards being negotiated.
No two journeys are the same
However, on the same journey, there will be major changes to the way you ride. Temporary hazards dictate that the road is never the same on two journeys in a row. Traffic changes second by second, road surfaces change with oil and fuel spillages. Traffic flow and the speed of other vehicles change depending on the road situation and time of day and weather can have a massive impact on your journey too.
The actual hazard is one that is clearly visible and one which must be negotiated in order to reduce risk and be safe. But a perceived or potential hazard may be one that can be seen or is out of sight. This could be a pedestrian at the side of the road with a dog on a lead, you can see it and may think ‘what if’ the dog was to run into the road as you pass!
Or if you see an ice cream van and although you cannot see any children, you could reduce speed and move position in anticipation of a child suddenly appearing from between or behind vehicles. In this situation you should be linking the visible hazard with the hidden danger that exists.
A Flexible Plan
Having the ability to change your mind is imperative to your safety on the road. Changing your mind really can reduce your rider risk significantly. Riders with flexible planning are far less likely to have an accident because they have an alternative plan up their sleeve and always ask themselves the question ‘What if?’
What if – means you are constantly looking out for things to happen. What if the car moves position? What if the vehicle I’m overtaking suddenly speeds up too? What if the car pulls out of the side road? All of these questions are going through a rider’s mind all the time, it does not mean you should be frightened of what might happen, you just have a plan B ready for when it does.
Always have a Plan B
Riders who have a plan B are usually well rehearsed and well practised and can almost ride like this on autopilot.
On approach to the hazard the riding plan must be flexible to allow you to make changes and adjustments. This is why you should never ride faster than 80% of your natural ability. You must have some reserves in the bag that can be called upon when needed. If you ride at your limit, it will be extremely difficult to get out of some situations.
Seeing the hazard early is important and can only be achieved with good forward vision, planning and awareness. By seeing things ahead of you early, you can start to think about how it may affect you before you get there and by having a greater margin for error you will be able to make changes to your initial riding plan.
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Once you have dealt with the hazard it is time to think about using the Acceleration Phase, this is to maintain, increase or decrease speed. By this stage you should have already identified the next hazard.
You may wish to maintain speed by setting the throttle so that you do not increase speed. If you are just starting to corner, the bike will slow down naturally as cornering forces are applied. You will need to gently apply a small amount of throttle to compensate for slowing down to maintain the desired speed. You will only need to accelerate gently in order to maintain the same speed after the bike has slowed down as you start to corner.
If you assess the situation to be safe and clear to increase speed, you will need to have started the process of the Information Phase again as you accelerate into the new riding position for the next Hazard that you have planned to deal with.
Don’t accelerate too early
If you are aggressive or too early with the throttle it can cause you positional problems. The bike will move wide towards the outside of the curve, in a left-hand bend you will drift towards the centre of the road (towards the white line and oncoming traffic) and in a right-hand bend you will drift towards the kerb.
Acceleration on a slippy or poor road surface can cause a lack of available grip. The weather conditions can also have an adverse effect on acceleration and cause a lack of adhesion.
It is always better to think you could have gone quicker in the last bend, rather than think you should not have tried to go so fast. By undergoing some professional motorcycle training and having guidance from an expert, it will transform your riding and allow you to practise the correct skills to elevate your riding ability.
In every walk of life, even the best in their field practice constantly and take extra training or continual development in order to stay on top of their game. The Olympic marathon runner puts in many miles of unseen practise before they eventually get the gold medal.