Eric Trow runs the Stayin’ Safe advanced rider training program, using some of the best roads in the USA as a classroom. He is also a regular contributor to Rider magazine/ridermagazine.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Cornering on a motorcycle is often a question of commitment, especially if you find yourself carrying too much speed.
Are you in or are you out? Are you going to make a move or are you going to just sit there? It’s time to commit. As in marriage, when entering into a curve, it’s best to stay committed, even when things aren’t going as planned—like when carrying too much speed into a curve. Here’s how to assure a happy ending and a lasting relationship with your bike.
Commit. Simply deciding you will complete the curve (versus deciding you are likely to crash) is a powerful determining factor in the outcome of the situation. What you decide will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trust that you—and your bike—have the ability to complete the corner and stay committed. Don’t allow crashing to be an option.
Look to the desired future. The natural human response is to stare down an impending threat (that guardrail or ditch outside the curve). Instead, turn your eyes toward the desired exit and the bike will follow. Can’t break the stare? Try an exaggerated glance over your inside shoulder.
Let it all out. Release all muscle tension with a big sigh and allow your body to sink down and into the corner (instead of staying rigid and upright). Clenched hands and rigid arms prohibit the bike from turning, but loose arms and a light touch enable you to
maneuver the bike through the turn. Guide the bike with increased countersteering pressure to the inside end of the handlebar.
Keep it steady. Resist the temptation to chop the throttle or reach for the brakes. That only upsets the chassis, minimizes ground clearance and encourages the rider to bail on the corner. In most instances, maintaining (or even increasing) throttle will provide greater control and lead to a better outcome. Some might even call it bliss.
I used to road race, a long time ago, but learned one thing that really helps in situations like this. Sometimes you enter the corner too fast, and hit the brakes and stand the bike up for a straight off excursion into the boonies. The incredible brakes of most bikes have you down to a reasonable speed quickly, and by realigning your goals in a millisecond (that of exiting the road vs. continuing on with the corner), before you leave the asphalt, shift your attention to diving back into the corner. Usually, you’re going slow enough that finishing the corner is a breeze. It’s good to practice this at safe corner speeds just to imprint the behavior into your brain for when you really need it. It’s helped me a number of times through the years, because the road ain’t the racetrack, and curves sometimes fool you!
I almost lost it in a curve yesterday but split decision to maintain speed and follow through saved me. Gave me a rush.