Cornering on a bike can be exciting and fun. It can also be intimidating if you’re new to riding or haven’t had the opportunity to practice your cornering skills. The key elements to successful cornering are proper body and bike positioning.
Stay loose: In cornering (like the rest of riding) it is important that your body stays relaxed. Loose joints and muscles allow your bike to move and react. Keep most of your weight on your legs to stay light in the saddle so that you can respond better to the varying road surfaces and bumps.
Get in the drops: Move your hands to the drops with our fingers on the on the brakes. This lowered center of gravity position increases your traction and control, and distributes your body weight more evenly between the front and rear tires.
Use your head: look ahead, through and around the turn. It’s natural to focus on the apex of the turn, but if you do, that is where your bike will go. Practice looking as far ahead through the turn as possible. On sharp corners, this can mean that your head and eyes are completely looking to one side and it can feel that you’re not watching where you are going, but by looking through the turn and ahead you’re actually causing your bike to naturally veer in the right direction. You will actually see potholes and other obstacles earlier as you look through the turn.
Adjust your pedals: You do not want the inside pedal to touch the ground. Move the inside pedal all the way to the top and the outside pedal down to the bottom of the pedal stroke. Put some weight on the outside foot, naturally angling the bike down toward the inside of the road. Slightly lifting your weight off the saddle will allow the bike to lean while you keep your body upright increasing traction and stability.
Brake smart: Brake before you enter the corner. Too much braking while cornering will severely compromise your traction on the road and could cause you to skid.
Out-In-Out: Make the corner as wide as you can safely and use the whole lane if possible. First, make sure the road is clear ahead and behind you. Enter the turn as close to the outside as possible. Aim for the inside corner as you go through the apex of the curve. Finally, exit toward the outside edge.
Practice is key! These skills will become more natural with practice. One great way to get a lot of practice is to find a corner that is challenging to you and ride that corner several times in a row each day you’re on your bike until it becomes second nature.