Getting through a corner efficiently and safely requires a combination of skills, plus confidence in your own ability as a rider and in the group on the road around you. Break it down into three stages, get to grips with the techniques and you’ll master the art of cornering in no time.
Cornering: entry phase
One of the most important parts of good cornering technique is a smooth and efficient entry.
As you approach the corner, your body position should be relaxed with your fingers covering the brakes. Ideally, keep your hands on the drops as you’ll have much better braking control, which is particularly important for tight, fast turns.
Looking ahead is crucial. When you are 10-20m/ 33-66ft from the corner, look to the entry and apex of the turn. This ensures you have time to judge the line you’ll take, the correct speed to maintain and the gear choice you’ll need when exiting. If the corner is blind and you can’t see the apex or exit, err on the side of caution and carry less speed into the turn.
Braking should be done before you enter the turn, so scrub any excess speed off in advance. Applying the brakes will reduce the grip your tyres have on the road. Apply force gradually and evenly, and avoid hard braking.
In wet conditions, you need to enter the corner at a much slower speed and you’ll need to be even gentler with your brakes. This means in order to enter at the correct speed you’ll need to start braking up to three times earlier in terms of distance, particularly if there’s surface water.
When choosing a line, you should be attempting to take the straightest possible. This will be the most efficient way through the corner and also ensure you have the maximum traction on the road. A good approach is to start wide then lean into the apex of the turn.
Remember you only have one half of the road to play with, so make sure you don’t leave your lane, and try and avoid potholes and painted lines.
As you enter the corner, stop pedalling, drop your outside pedal to the 6 o’clock position and push your weight through it. This provides greater traction for the tyres and prevents your inner pedal clipping the tarmac as you lean into the corner.
Cornering: execution phase
If you’ve set up your entry phase correctly, then the execution phase will run smoothly. It starts as soon as you begin to lean your bike into the apex of the corner.
Keep looking ahead at your chosen line, following it to the exit of the turn, and keep your weight pressed down on the outside pedal.
If you are on the drops, flatten your back and forearms as this will lower your centre of mass and give you greater stability. You may find that your weight lifts off the saddle slightly and your arms push through the bars more.
You will ideally be off the brakes, but with your fingers resting lightly on the levers in case you do need to check your speed. Judging how fast you should go is not an exact science, so a small amount of braking can be applied if needed. This should be applied lightly through both the front and rear brakes.
Cornering: exit phase
As you begin to exit the corner, keep looking ahead up the road to ensure you spot and anticipate any obstacles or hazards.
Your bike will naturally want to straighten up, so you should try and take a wide line out of the corner while still staying safely within your lane on the road.
Avoid pedalling until the bike is fully upright to avoid accidentally clipping your inside pedal on the ground.