The topic of cornering your motorcycle at various speeds has been an item of discussion for a long time, and there are some basic techniques that can help anyone on any size bike.  One of the biggest fears, aside from a crash, is losing control during a turn or corner. What people fail to realize is that at certain higher speeds, the bike will become more stable even while turning. Let’s not get ahead of myself.

By no means do I want to classify myself as an expert or experienced rider.  The information I provide is solely based on what I’ve learned, either through riding or applying techniques demonstrated through videos or friends.  The best suggestion I have would be to take a rider’s course, either basic or advanced from a certified instructor which will provide you not only with the knowledge, but allow you to practice those techniques in a safe and controlled environment.  With that said, let me begin.  When I started riding again, some years back, when approaching a turn or a corner, I would slow the bike down considerable because I was inexperienced and didn’t have a “warm and fuzzy” about my skill level on the bike.  Note, your performance on the bike is completely based on your skill level and at no time should you attempt to operate your bike outside of your level of comfort.

Counter balancing

At speeds between 1 and 15 miles per hour, when taking a corner or turn, you will have to counter-balancing the bike.  You will find a ton of videos on YouTube regarding this very idea.  If you are aware or not, when you are turning your bike at slow speeds you must turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go while simultaneously dipping the bike in that direction.  To avoid leaning the bike too far or rolling the bike over, you will counter-balance your body.  Counter-balancing means that you will sit upright throughout the turn, usually in a position 90 degrees from the street.  You will not lean in the opposite direction and most importantly you will NOT use the front brake for any reason.

NOTE: Always remember, if your front forks are turn in any direction, using the front brake is a sure way to pull the bike down to the ground.  The rear brakes will be more than sufficient in stopping the bike or slowing it down until you return the bike to a vertical and straight position THEN applying the front brakes.

Here is an example of controlling your bike, regardless of size, at low speeds.

If you watched the video, you may have noticed a couple of things.  First, the rider NEVER leans with the bike throughout the turns, again counter-balancing.  Also, the size of the bike, the ride, the experience level, and if a passenger is involved, has no affect on controlling the bike.  Simple practice and knowing the techniques is all that is needed.  The last two notable points is the use of friction zone and head and eyes position.  Using this point you can turn a bike at low speeds, and if required, within 18 ft, with room to spare.  Okay, back to counter-balancing.  When you are turning, keep your head and eyes up, don’t look at the ground.  Look at where you want to go and about 6 feet above the ground.  Surprisingly, your bike will head in that position.  This may take a little work before you get comfortable, but it is very possible.

Higher speed Turning – Counter-steering

Okay, this is probably a lot easier to do that turning at lower speed, but even knowing a simple technique can make turns a breeze.  If you have reached a speed above 15 MPG, then centrifugal force generated by the wheel will cause the bike to be more stable in the vertical position.  The bike wants to stay upright.  This force that make counter-steering possible.  What is counter-steering?  You may have heard people say, “to turn left you must turn right”.  At first glance that doesn’t make any sense.  It didn’t to me, so I sat an pondered for a while.  Okay, so I YouTubed it. Now it makes complete sense.  Let me give you an example.  If you are travel straight on a flat road and SLIGHTLY pull on the left handlebar, your bike will move to the right.  I didn’t believe it either, so I tried it out.  You pull on the right handlebar, the bike will move to the left.  This is due to gyroscopic precession. This is essentially counter-steering and we all do it, even if we didn’t realize we were.  To make this force functional for you, you aren’t going to pull on the left handlebar because you want to turn left, what you will do is PUSH down on the handlebar in the direction you want travel.  If you want to turn left, then you would push down on the left handlebar.  Pushing down on the handlebars makes moving into a turn and maintaining that lean, much much easier.  Regardless of how to get into the turn, keep the speed lower at the beginning and increase your throttle through the apex of the turn.  You’ll be surprised how it feels like the bike digs into the turn when you do this method.

Anyway, these are just a couple of little techniques that I’ve learned over the years, that may be helpful with negotiating your bike around turns and corners.  Either way, be safe and happy riding.

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