Quick Tips: Taking Turns at Speed

Don't overlean, don't brake, and... don't crash. :)
Don’t overlean, don’t brake, and… don’t crash.

Handling turns at speed can be scary. Here are some tips for taking high speed turns.

PRACTICE! Don’t just fly into a curve, especially one you don’t know. Ease into it, and work your speed up. As you get better, you’ll find there’s a limit to what your bike can handle, though what you can handle is usually reached before what the bike can. 🙂

Resist leaning into the turn. Our first instinct is to lean into the turn, to go where we want the bike to go. But what it really does is move our center of mass away from the bike – to the inside of the turn, off the bike. This decreases the downward force that’s on the tire, making it easier to skid. Shift your weight to the outside pedal, and lean the bike more than yourself. This will put more of your weight over the center of the bike, helping the tire keep contact with the ground.

Don’t brake. That turn might be coming up fast, but the surest way to skid out is to brake while in the turn. Bleed as much speed as you can before entering the turn, but once you start turning, commit to the turn and lay off the brakes. The faster you take a turn, the less braking needed to cause a skid. Braking adds another force counter to the line of travel, making it more likely that your wheel will slide out from under you.

Don’t over-turn. Riding is all about maintaining momentum – using the energy you put into the bike as efficiently as possible. If you take a turn too sharply, you’ll feel the bike resisting you in the turn. That resistance is eating away at your speed. The sharper your turn relative to your speed, the more momentum you’ll lose. It feels cool to thrash that corner, but what you’re really doing is throwing away the energy you put into the bike. Watch your entry and exit lines, and if you have room, ease up on the turn – increase the radius – to save energy.