CORNERING / GO FOR IT!
by Tony Lewis, EuroSport Cycle
In past newsletters, I've written some basic riding tips. In this column I'd like to pass on the single most important piece of sage advice I know about cornering. GO FOR IT! A simple sentence that deserves a thorough explanation. I'm not going to explain all the technical aspects of cornering such as weight transfer, trail braking, apex point, late entry etc. That's too complex for this space and surprisingly not nearly as important.
What matters most is the riders mind set. If you ride you will enter a turn too fast at some point. The adrenalin hits, your grip tightens and your brain is screaming TOO FAST. At this point your survival instinct takes over and you go for the brakes.
I've seen this happen too many times to remember and watched as the bike slid off the road. Every one of these crashes had two things in common: The bike could have made it, and the rider didn't GO FOR IT! I know it sounds simplistic but let's examine the options. If you've come into a turn at what you think is too fast, there are basically two options: straighten it out (run off the road) or go for it. All the factors such as braking, trail braking and late entry are riding techniques not options.
That's not to say that you cannot go for the brakes to slow down as much as possible before the turn. But it still all comes down to deciding it you're going to try to make the turn or not. If you determine you cannot make it, then you've just decided to crash. Think about that. If you don't go for it you are choosing to crash. If you are very lucky there will be a nice soft grassy field in the run off area. If not look back at that turn.
Remember, you go where you look, so stop looking at the tree guard rail or fence you don't want to hit and look through the turn where you want to go ' Now you say "I'm going too fast to make the turn and if I try it I'll crash". This is a matter of perception, what looks too fast to you may be just right for another. Modern motorcycles are incredibly capable machines. They now go far beyond our abilities to ride them so regardless of your perception, the reality is the bike probably can make it. But it won't if you don't go for it. Ok, lets say you're sure the bike won't make it. If you're right and the bike cannot make the turn, then you are going to crash. Now, how do you want to crash? If you have good run off (a grassy field) use it. But, if it is the fence, tree or guardrail option you don't want to ride into these, even if it's just a rough or rocky ditch.
Riding into these upright, on the brakes, means your body is on top of the bike at speed and you will probably be thrown off into the air in front of your bike, possibly the worst type of crash you can have. But, if you go for it and crash you will fall in the best way possible. It's called a low side. It's done by leaning the bike into the turn further and further past the point where the tires can stick. At this point the bike slides out away from you. You will fall about two feet and slide behind the bike slowing much faster than it does By the time you slide to that fence, tree or guard rail, you'll be going much slower than the bike plus you'll be on the ground, not flying through the air so that your fall will be the least dangerous possible. Now: Here's the good part. If you go into that turn leaning the bike further and further, you'll probably never run out of tires. That means you make the turn. No crash. Even better, you don't have to make the judgment call on whether you can make it or not. The best action is the same either way so GO FOR IT!
Keep in mind the bike can lean over until the foot pegs drag and more. Have you ever dragged your foot pegs? Toes of your boots don't count, they stick out like curb feelers. Pull them up on the pegs and keep going. Remember to get off the brakes before entering the turn and get back on the gas just enough to have positive throttle, relax those elbows, lean forward and look through the turn. It's all about riding, not falling. Trust your bike. GO FOR IT!
See you on the road
Tony & Martha Lewis
3100 Airport Freeway
Fort Worth, Texas 76111-3927
817.838.8135 or 1.800.838.8135
Copyright © 2000 NTNOA All rights reserved.
Revised: March 06, 2014