master cornering on a road bike to improve your skills
Cornering is one of those fundamental skills you really need to perfect if you’re going to be a good bike rider so read on if you’d like to master cornering on a road bike.
I wouldn’t claim to be an expert but my cornering technique has improved over the years. This has been through watching other riders with superior handling skills to mine, listening to advice, attending skills sessions, and practising what I learnt.
I’m a pretty risk-averse person so when I started out on a road bike I used to rely heavily on my brakes every time I went around a corner. Over time I learned that for a vast majority of corners you don’t need to, and shouldn’t brake at all. You might wash off speed before you reach a corner, but you don’t brake as you turn.
Women are generally more cautious than men when it comes to anything that involves physical activity and we need lots of encouragement before we become proficient at something. So here are my tips learnt from various people and a bit of research.
- Look ahead to where you want to go rather than at the road or bike immediately in front of you. You will automatically head in the direction where you are looking.
- Wash off speed before the corner by braking lightly with both brakes (this is called feathering) and don’t brake while you are going around the actual corner.
- Slow down around corners when the road is wet or there is debris like leaves or gravel. It is also important not to turn on any white road markings particularly when it’s wet because they become very slippery.
- As you approach the corner your inside pedal should be up and your outside one down. You should also put your weight on your outside foot which is down.
- Lean the bike over rather than yourself. The centrifugal force will ensure that you won’t fall off.
- For the ultimate in fast cornering, you should put your hands down on the drops of your handlebars.
- Approach the corner wide, cut the apex and finish wide. My friend Greg refers to this as straightening out the corner.
- Accelerate out of the corner and if necessary stand up on the pedals to get maximum power.
- Practice on your own, over and over again until you feel comfortable.
- Watch the professional riders on TV or better still go and see them live and see how they tackle corners.
It takes years to master these fundamentals so don’t be too hard on yourself if you suffer from the same issues that many of us do.