Taking corners on motorcycle

Discussion in 'Roadcraft' started by tonykiwi, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    During one of our evening 'de-briefing' sessions on the four day tour, the discussion came around to how best to take corners on a motor cycle. Various ideas were thrown around as to the best strategy for cornering but there did not seem to be a concensus. (Maybe the bin full of empty bottles had its influence)

    With my own limited exprience on motorbikes I was only able to throw up some previous driver training where we were taught to corner in a specific way.

    Basically, the standard rules always applied, braking and gear changes prior to the corner. Position as follows. On a left hand bend, take a position close to the centre of the road, affording best possibe visibility. For a right hand bend, position to the kerb side of the road for the same reason.

    Then, when cornering, follow what was termed as the travelling apex of the bend. (that is hard to describe without drawing, but the apex will move as you travel forwards into the bend so the track taken would gradually move across the road as the bend was taken.) The idea is to therefore give the best possible visibility of the road ahead and also to 'soften' the sharpness of the bend.

    Other strategies were drawn on paper and the three more experienced riders all had their views but I just wondered what others thought. I am working hard in upskilling in preparation of next years visit so would appreciate any opinions.

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  3. Dougal

    Dougal Ol'Timer

    Think you've more or less covered it Tony.

    Read a long thread on this but can't remember where. The crux of it was that they were trying to answer this question and even had input from Freddie Spencer about how much the "lean" influenced and controlled the corner taking.

    What was interesting was that the guy proved that a bike will not go round a corner without 'counter steer' from the front wheel. Never thought of it myself.
    He proved it by locking the front wheel into "straight" position and invited the test riders to try. They all conceded.

  4. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    This argument came up elsewhere along with the same 'proof'.. All that proves is locking the bars wont allow balance steering not that balance steering doesnt work.

    Consider this, why is it when riding I can go no handed, and still using only bodyweight control the bike to weave back and forth between cones. Proof that bodyweight DOES create balance steering.

    Totally agreed that counter steer is the faster and controlled way, and most riders intuitively counter steer, when they think they are balance steering 100% and may not know it. But its a combination of C of G, centrifugal force, direction of travel etc that all add up to end result.
  5. Dougal

    Dougal Ol'Timer


    I reckon you've put that perfectly. If I remember correctly Freddie Spencer commented just like yourself.

    Think your point of "doing it intuitively" is spot on; for myself it was only in discussions such as this that I found out I was doing it without ever having realised it.
  6. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer

    The original article describing the principles of riding "The Pace" is an oldie ('93), but remains well worth a read today.

    http://www.sportrider.com/ride/146_9306 ... index.html

    The above is intended to make group rides safer and more fun, but is always in my mind even when out alone to remain quick, but also as smooth as possible as if I am leading a group. Really helps me with staying focused. And the day just isn't complete without snapping the bike up and into a perfect power wheelie right out of the apex of a turn is it?
  7. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    Superb article.. Will bookmark that and spread it around as it so well describes some issues that Thailand makes much more important.

    I am not a great rider, I mean I love it, but I am not highly skilled on the edge of traction etc etc.. In in part blame that on the duller southern roads and traffic crowding we have locally (bit of a cop out but theres some truth in it too).

    While I was last up north I had my missus on the back, so I ride totally differently then, and to still enjoy myself I set a mental task to ride as smoothly as possible, so every gear change was properly timed, and met with the right revs, each corner entry was a smooth arc with the right apex point and yet still keeping lots of spare traction and distance for pothole avoidance etc. What I found was, with a week of riding every day with purely a goal of being smooth and fluid above all else, loads of other aspects of my riding really started to come together, instead of my racing about, too much throttle, too much break, stop go hooliganism, just by being fluid I was 10x safe and getting almost as fast. I was also getting a real kick out of simple things like just having the perfect speed to make no adjustments just precisely double apex a complex corner or to smoothly handle a increasing curve. I know thats how riding should be, that a good rider is doing that full time anyway, but the focus on prefecting smoothness is a satisfying ride style all in itself.
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    ^ Wow- what a great article- I've never ventured beyond the Forum on the GT-Rider site and didn't realize there was such good stuff a click away! :mrgreen:
  10. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    This is from the article linked above "The Pace":
    7. Don't crowd the centerline.
    Always expect an oncoming car with two wheels in your lane.

    I think this is very important when riding on roads here, particularly in the mountains. I recommend to judge your apex speed, and your exit of the corners, so that you are no farther out than the middle of YOUR lane. You never know what is going to be half way (or more) into your lane when you exit the corner.

    It may not be the fastest line, but at least it gives you some room for avoidance of "whatever"!!!! :shock:
  11. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer

    Exactly. Like any activity that requires precision, being smooth is all a state of mind whether it be riding, darts, or golf. Except riding is unique in that you can't mentally block external stimuli as multiple things are constantly trying to kill you (also true if you're playing darts in Glasgow). Simultaneous focus and awareness. A tall order really when you think about it.

    But without sounding like a monk, when you are focused and smooth, your ability to react (in almost all cases means to not over-react) appropriately to danger is greatly enhanced. In fact, there are times when I walk out to the bike and realize that I'm just not "right" mentally and will go do something else.
  12. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    They have really made great progress in the way you get your bike licence in Australia... you are now required to do a couple of days of theory/practical training as opposed to a car license which is just a 30 minute driving test...

    What they teach us is... Right hand bend, enter on the outside, and hug the outside until you can see around the corner, if there is no cars coming, move to the centre line as you open the throttle in case you would have run wide... if there is a car coming the other way, stay on the outside until it has past...

    On a left hand bend, same thing...

    Now, both of these lines are the complete opposite of a racing line, but it is the practice of 'buffering' that they are trying to educate riders about here... if a car runs wide on a bend, the time to see, register, think, react, is usually greater than the time to impact, so it is better to already be in the furthest position from the car...

    They take that shit pretty seriously in the test as well... if you are on a three lane road, they seriously expect you to be 6 lanes away from oncoming cars...

    I do put a lot of the 'buffering' technique into practice, and believe it has some strong merit, but perhaps not to the extent that they teach...

    For all of us, the aim is to get to point B safely... while it feels great to line up all the apexs on a nice road, if the bend was a little more open, and the apex 2 meters from the current centre line, and you hit that apex nicely, you would still feel very happy about your riding...

  13. monsterman

    monsterman Ol'Timer

    cornering ...dont forget sometimes at ligher speeds negative steering helps ...that is slightly loading the bars in opposite direction to the turn by applying a little extra weight. also watch out for sand,diesel ,stones ,broken surfaces as they will be a major factor in bends.
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  15. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    I strongly agree on trying to keep away from the center line due to oncoming traffic. Will knock a bit of time off your overall speed, but well worth the safety factor. While riding in China, I noticed that the last few cars that passed me on a two lane highway had swung a bit wide on the turns.... I then changed over to riding the corners all the way on the outside. A few minutes later a car made a bad pass
    in the middle of a turn ,coming straight into me in my lane. If I had not been all the way over to the outer edge to start with, I certainly would have been dead......So to the ricky racer guys who cut to the inside of every turn sometimes crossing over the painted line, good luck with that. But not for me !
  16. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Riding on the left, left turns are not a problem. Right turns, you need to really stay off the racing line though. Always inside your own lane, with a bit of a respect distance from the center. Safest would be to use only the outside half of your own lane.

    I was going from Chiang Mai to Pai one day, and I already knew to be careful in the turns. On this road particularly there are many turns with no visibility. I was going uphill, pretty steep turn, when a huge truck came racing down the mountain, in my lane so as to hit the curve better, I suppose. I was far enough out that I could easily avoid it, but had I tried to go faster and/or closer to the center on that right turn, there's no way in hell that truck could have stopped.
  17. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Worth remembering that on a RH bend, even if your wheels are well over to the LHS of your lane, as you bend over, your head is going to be nearer the middle, the more you lean the further over it is. If your wheels are following the centre line, then your head is going to be way into enemy territory.
  18. Not on a Yamaha

    Not on a Yamaha Ol'Timer

    To corner on Thai roads, you need to leave some reserve for a sudden change in direction.
    There is no way you can enter a Thai corner committed to a certain line. You will need to make changes on the fly.
    If you can see thru a corner then you can trace a line through it. If not better to hang inside to middle of your lane.
  19. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ol'Timer

    There are some general Rules and Guidelines in terms of positioning and techniques that may apply to all bikes / riders, some covered in previous posts. However, the physics and dynamics of executing those manouvers may vary significantly depending on;
    - the type of bike; sports, tourer, cruiser, motard, enduro etc
    - the wheel sizes and tyres variations fitted on each of those styles of bike
    - the roads surfaces encountered

    There will also be differences between different makes and models of each style of bike. For example, my last 3 cruisers have had quite different handling behaviours;
    1 - Kawasaki Vulcan 400 cruiser; 21in front wheel. Rock solid handling, like a dirt bike on gravel, and no need to alter body position because it stuck to the road like a poo to a blanket no mattter what you did on it. But underpowered, so no reserve of acceleration to "drive" it out of a corner at higher speeds.

    [color color=#FF0000]2 - Honda 1100 Shadow[/color]; disconcerting on long sweeping bends with ripples because of noticeable frame flex. Excellent power and massive torque to drive out of a corner. No need to alter body position and it would easily go all the way over and scrape the floorboards in a turn. Skittish on gravel, and quite scary on corners with grit on the surface!

    3 - Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom; 21in front wheel. Rock solid handling, like a dirt bike on gravel, copes well with unexpected grit on corners. This bike has a much lower seat height than the 1100 Shadow, and as a consequence a lower centre of gravity. Cornering fast, its not difficult to scrape the bootheels on the asphalt... Like most cruisers, there are cornering constraints due to that low ground clearance, and lower position of footpegs (or floorboards).

    However, this Vulcan responds extremely well to altering your body position by leaning into the corners. Of course, not to the extremes that MotoGP riders assume! Bending forward a little, and then leaning your upper body into the corner by about a foot (30cm) so the centre of your chest is in line with the kill switch (right) or light switch (left). I'm still figuring out what I can get away with on it, but this is a cruiser that really responds to this sort of coaxing into the corners!

    I assume its the combination of the forks rake/angle, low centre of gravity and the 300kg weight - plus my 100kgs :lol-sign:

    Going up Highway 120 from the Wang Nua side has become very interesting since I started adapting my previous riding style to this bike's different dynamics. Having to swap sides of the bike adds another dimension of enjoyment to zig-zags, and 'we'can now go significantly quicker through those mountain s-bends than previously! This little change gives me a chance at keeping up with FL on 120 :)
  20. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ol'Timer

    Opinions given thus far suggest that you should;
    - Leave some reserve for a sudden change in direction (Not On A Yamaha)
    - Start into a left-hander from the mid to right side of your lane, in order to get the best possible view through the corner to see potential hazards as early as possible.

    Seems like good advice to me... Here's one illustration of why!


    This was on the s-bends a few kms north of Mae Suai on a very sharp left bend, immediately after a hard right-hander... I'f you'd been hurtling around THIS 90 degree corner, leaning hard into the inside of the turn, you'd have been confronted by a very nasty obstacle indeed!!! There were NO warning markers - usually a few fresh tree branches are placed well in advance of the hazard, but not on this occasion...
  21. monsterman

    monsterman Ol'Timer

    Many Thai roads are perfectly smooth up to the Apex of a bend BUT the actual Apex often have nasty ripples in the tarmac caused due to overloaded heavy truck tyre torque pushing tarmac sideways in bends , so just as you are committed the surface itself becomes very bumpy and rutted and extremely dangerous ,Its a pain as you want to turn in smoothly but have to slow and find the smoothest safest line around the bend....its frustrating when trying to press on and have a bend swinger party .....
  22. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    So true! A perfect description of the road between Pai and CM- fantastic road when in good repair, but last time I rode it most of the corners were terribly bumpy and rutted. Really took a lot of the fun out of it... :-(

    Have any of you guys watched Keith Code's (California Superbike School) TWIST OF THE WRIST movie? It's a quick download from any file sharing site and contains so much valuable information presented in a fun and easy to understand format. Here's a great sample:

    Ride On!
  23. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    Yeah I still have to fight my car drivers apex line thinking, driving hard in a car you can go in under more deceleration and power out later, with a bike its so much smoother to brake turn and power through the corner, with a tighter entry point. Plus it gives you the vis through the corner and so many other good bits.

    But knowing it in your head and getting it right every time on the road, well I still have to mentally tell myself rather than find it instinctive. Too much hooning in cars I guess.

    Is there a track up north here for practice ??
  24. salbrecht

    salbrecht Member

    I have read through this entire thread, and I am surprised to find that the most important aspect of riding (and driving) has been omitted. I'll say it first, then offer some explaination.

    Look Ahead, Look Ahead, Look Ahead

    While living in the US, I was a high performance driving instructor for the BMW Car Club of America. I taught at the Car Control Clinics and at track schools. The hardest job we instructors had was getting students to look way down the track. This has the profound effect of making your driving far and away smoother, and therefore faster. As mentioned earlier, throttle-brake-throttle transitions need to be absolutely smooth and seamless so as not to upset the suspension and the tire contact patches.

    Smooth is fast

    and amazingly enough, as you get smoother, your initial perception is that you are going slower. Trust me, you are going faster. Check your tach at the apex and watch your rpm climb. Also as mentioned earlier, all braking should be in a straight line while the bike is vertical. Add enough power through the corner to keep the front/rear weight distribution as close to 50-50 as possible. You don't want to low side or high side. As you pass through the apex, smoothly turn up the wick. This has the effect of adding weight to the rear wheel for additional traction, as well as starting to stand the bike up thereby bringing you out of your turn.

    Looking ahead also makes you smoother because you can make corrections for oncoming hazards much earlier, and the corrections can be gentle as opposed to abrupt. If you are watching the road 10 (or less) meters in front of your front tire, then you need to retrain your eyes. You should be looking at least 100m ahead. It will take you close to half that distance to stop from 100kph, and that's after you have traveled 50+m while getting the brakes applied. I'll bet we are all exceeding 100kph a significant amount of time. There is no need to look 10m ahead, it is already too late to do anything about what you see there.

    Try this experiment. Place an object on the ground about a meter in front of you. Now look out at a distant object on the horizon. Amazing enough you can also see the object on the ground with your peripheral vision. Now look directly at the object. How much of the horizon can you see? Nothing, nada, nix.

    Stay safe out there, and don't forget to ...

    Look Ahead


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