Cornering Vanishing Point
The Vanishing Point is also referred to as the Limit Point. It is one of the ways in which a rider can judge the severity of a corner. If we break these two phrases down and explain them, then everything becomes very clear indeed.
Some advanced trainers state that they do not believe in using the Vanishing Point to assess and judge a bends severity. When you dig a little bit deeper you start to understand their opinion, but using the Vanishing Point is only one of the tools in the box – it is not the only tool to use.
You see, the Vanishing Point is only a technique for assessing the severity of the bend, it doesn’t actually get you around the corner. It is a way of helping you get to grips with the technique of understanding your speed in relation to cornering.
If you don’t already use the Vanishing Point or the Limit Point to control your speed, it might be worth looking into. Try using the technique to gain more experience and confidence to learn exactly what you are actually doing and when.
If it helps you understand the technique and gives you a little bit more information and guidance, then it has to be a good thing and can ultimately make you a safer rider.
What’s the Vanishing Point?
Most riders do not look far enough ahead when they are riding. If you look ahead correctly when you see where the road is going, you’ll see what is happening ahead and also be able to see when you are approaching a bend or corner (in the distance).
In very simple terms, the Vanishing Point is where the road seems to disappear. Obviously this comment refers to the area where the road vanishes out of view. It is also referred to as the Limit Point and is the furthest point ahead where you can see the road. In other words, it is the limit of your vision.
It is the point where the two kerbs appear to meet as you approach a bend. If you look at the left hand kerb in a right hand bend, it is the furthest point that you can see of the road. Then look at the right hand kerb and it follows the same kind of path and seems to meet the left hand kerb. This is the limit of your view of the road surface and where the road appears to vanish.
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How to use the Vanishing Point
As you approach the corner the Vanishing Point appears to get closer to you and as you exit the corner the Vanishing Point appears to be moving away.
You can use this technique of assessing where the Vanishing Point is, to control your speed. The best way to control your speed using this technique is by the use of throttle sense (also known as acceleration sense).
If you use IPSGA on approach to hazards, you will be using the “System of Motorcycle Control” as referred to in The Police Riders Handbook – RoadCraft. This is imperative for correct speed and gear approach to a corner, as you do not want to be braking mid-corner because you have got it wrong and are travelling too fast on entry.
As the Vanishing Point gets closer to you, you should use the throttle control to slow the motorcycle down.
As you start to corner, at some stage in the corner the Vanishing Point will appear to stay at the same distance away from you (the location of this depends on the severity of the bend). When you see this happening you will be travelling at the correct speed for the bend.
Then as you go through the bend, the Vanishing Point will appear to be moving away. At this point, if it is safe and clear you can start to increase speed.
A way to remember if the Vanishing Point is:-
- Getting closer – slow down
- Staying the same distance – maintain speed
- Getting further away – speed up
This is just a guide and should be used as a reference and not a hard and fast rule. The reason it should be used as a guide is because all corners are different and you must take into account the road surface, camber and situation. You should deal with each corner on its own merit and always ride within your own capabilities.
A good phrase to use is ‘you must be able to stop within the distance that you can see to be clear on your side of the road’. In other words, don’t ride so fast that you can’t stop your motorcycle safely on your side of the road if you suddenly come across a problem mid-corner.
Putting it all together
As I have stated previously, using one technique on its own will not transform your riding skills. In order to do that you must have a deeper understanding of how to apply the different techniques.
Riding a motorcycle is complex, there are many things to think about and process all at the same time. Techniques must be understood and then practised at a slower speed to set the skills. When building a large structure, the foundations have to be good, otherwise the building will collapse, the same thing applies here.
The foundations are the most important aspect of improving your ability. It is not a quick fix and starting out with trying to corner quickly is not the correct practice. That’s like trying to put the roof on the house before the walls have been built. It takes time, education, practice and experience to develop the skills.
You must also be trained by a professional coach who can help you highlight problems and change small details in your riding. Often the smallest changes have the biggest results. I’ve often heard riders say “How the hell am I still here after all these years of riding, without knowing that?”.
The answer to that question is often ‘you’ve been very lucky’!
You must have a deep understanding of your own ability and know exactly what you should do and when. Your speed, cornering position and counter-steering input play a huge role in how to use the Vanishing Point.
What should you do next?
If you have never done any advanced training before, now is the perfect time to start. The Motorcycle Riders Hub Advanced Course explains and demonstrates how to use the “System of Motorcycle Control”. It is a good starting point for riders with limited or no knowledge.
Next it’s time to find a trainer who can give you practical guidance. Not all organisations are good at explaining what and how to do things. Do your research and find a reputable trainer who can teach you properly.
You may prefer your training to be broken down into sections so that you have specific things to work on. Just riding lots of miles without the correct guidance is fruitless. Learning and having the correct education is vital to your improvement.
Written by Simon Hayes