Every motocross racer knows corners are where they can make up the most time or lose the most time. Corners are so important that even the top pros practice corners separately in their practice sessions. Carving a corner smoothly, fast and in control is an art form.
Although the techniques for cornering are the same for every rider, each rider has their own style doing them. It's like a fingerprint. Everyone has a unique fingerprint like no one else has. So how do you become fast, smooth and in control though the turns? How do you develop your own personal style?
In order to corner really well you have to have some talent, know all the cornering techniques inside and out, and then practice them frequently over a long period of time. There's much more to cornering than just leaning over and going through the turn.
There are many techniques for cornering between the rider and motorcycle. There are even techniques that affect the handling of the motorcycle in the corner. These techniques make the motorcycle either hold the track or break loose and pivot, sliding through the corner. Did you know that applying power or braking with the rear brake has a big effect on your front wheel steering? For example, when you're leaning over while accelerating, the rear wheel is pushing the front wheel forward. This causes the front wheel to steer differently according to how much power you're putting to the rear wheel.
If adding just a light to moderate amount of power, it supports the front wheel steering and prevents it from sliding out. If you apply a lot of power to the rear wheel you will begin power sliding which causes the front wheel to counter steer. These techniques are known as steering with both wheels. Regarding braking, did you know when you are leaning over in a corner and using the rear brake it pulls the front wheel back and to the inside? This not only makes the bike steer tighter but also keeps the front wheel from sliding out.
In order to ride a corner fast you need to carry as much speed as possible and as long as possible into the corner, slow yourself down just enough to retain control at the "Exit Transition" (the Exit Transition is where you go from braking to accelerating), and then get on the gas as soon and as hard as possible. In order to carry a lot of speed into the corners you need to have a fast and late "Approach Transition" (the Approach Transition is where you go from accelerating to braking). With this in mind, we can understand that a very important part of cornering is braking. To be good at cornering, you have to be good at braking.
You have to constantly anticipate exactly what is going to happen just before it happens. You have to know the exact line that you want to be on - that line should take you to the best possible traction for the exit transition. It's very important to know exactly where your front tire is going, so you can find the best traction at the most critical part of the turn. This is where you're going to be turning the most, at the Exit Transition.
Again, make sure your front tire is going exactly where you want it to go. If you're doing the techniques correctly, the back tire will follow exactly where you want it to go. Of course, all through the corner, you have to maintain complete relaxed control. Tightness and mistakes only make you tired and slow you down, if not make you crash. Remember, you can only try as hard, and go as fast as you can if you do the techniques correctly and maintain relaxed control. So, if you're tight or making mistakes, slow down, which in turn allows you to learn how to go faster.
In others words, it takes much more finesse than just charging into the turns at full speed and hoping you'll be able to make it when you get in there. As I mentioned there are many techniques that go into cornering. Many relating to body positions and movements, and many more related to using the clutch, throttle, front and rear brakes. Then consider all the different types of corners like the angle of the corners, whether they're banked or off-camber, sharp or sweeping, and the conditions of the track - if the surface is soft, wet, hard, dry, rutted, ect.
For much more in-depth cornering info see free previews and order DVDs or Streams online Motocross Braking Techniques.
Ride hard, ride smart and have fun.
About Gary Semics:
Learn our GSMXS time tested and proven practice and training methods to improve your riding skills and race results. How? Through our hands on Motocross School Group and Private classes, with located in six countries. Through our Techniques and Training DVDs.