Motorcyle cornering techniques

I consider myself to be at the lower end of intermediate when it comes to riding. I understand countersteer, engine braking, how front and rear brakes should be used etc. I’ve been reading around though, and what I really want to know about is advanced cornering techinques; specifically Putting Your Knee Down.

From what I’ve read I understand, the idea is twofold: By adjusting your bodyweight you can keep the bike more upright, maintaining better grip through the corner; and you also look cool.

Trouble is, I’m not really sure how I should be moving my body. Can anyone shed any light?

Mods, I’m wondering if there is a place in Forumosa for a technique guide. My shot at a sticky. :smiley:



Fund this in a sportsbike discussion thread . . . all good advice.
Of course, if you’re manipulating a big heavy bike through a corner, especially one that tends to stand up when you hit the throttle, it will come all the more naturally than on a small bike where you are really doing it more for fun.


[quote]Learn to balance your weight on the balls of your feet while riding, just taking the weight off your seat.

When you are comfortable with this, start working on “the one-cheek sneak” - As you are approaching a known corner, lift up on your feet and slide your butt about 1/2 way off the inside of the seat, without splaying your knee out just yet. This shifts your weight substantially to the inside of the arc, which keeps the bike slightly more vertical, and allows more cornering grip from the tires, and makes the bike more stable. It also gives you a little extra lean angle available for sudden line changes like when you go into a corner a little too hot.

Practice the “sneak” for a while, in combination with firm counter-steering, and you will see a marked improvement in your riding.
The rest is natural and you’ll find yourself hanging off without thinking about it.

But - You really shouldn’t be dragging your knees on the street. If you are, you’re riding too fast for the street - Save the actual knee-dragging for the track.

Try riding quick, but hanging off just enough to get through the corner, so it doesn’t get too much attention…:cops[/quote]

Great stuff, interesting topic though as resident safety bore I feel compelled to highlight this part from HGC’s link/quote:[quote=“Huang Guang Chen”][quote]But - You really shouldn’t be dragging your knees on the street. If you are, you’re riding too fast for the street - Save the actual knee-dragging for the track.[/quote][/quote]

Anyway, we were discussing this before – I know Plasmatron posted about it and I can’t remember who else. And in that other thread which I can’t find right now, I mentioned that I’d seen a web page which explained, using the laws of physics, why leaning the bike over and keeping your body relatively upright gives you better grip and control on dodgy road surfaces. The reason that racers hang off the bike, according to that page, is that they are already grinding the footpegs and they need to get even tighter cornering. The tyres and road surface are good enough to allow that.

Now this might be rubbish; I don’t know. But when I read that information it seemed quite persuasive. Think about it – you never see dirt riders hanging off the bike, do you?

Trouble is, I can’t find the link. If anyone else can, I’d be very grateful.

Ok, here I go at trying to make this simple and as safe as possible for you…

Getting your knee down has 2 purposes…on the street, it’s mostly done to look cool…on the track, it’s a reference to lean angle and a way to hold a line through a corner…
Either way requires the same steps to have success in getting your knee down.

1- know your corner and at what speed you wish to take it.

2- nearing the corner entry, set-up your bike(right gear): Select a gear that will allow you to keep your RPMs in a sweet spot where you can get good drive on exit but no twitchiness in the corner…look for a stable setting.

3-Adjust your speed to the “target speed” you planned for. very important: for the sake of training purposes, this must be done before even entering the corner. having your bike set-up prior to getting into the corner will allow you to focus on the corner itself instead of having to deal with excess speed or too little.(it make take a few passes to get the right speed). Make sure that your feet are well positioned on the pegs. Basically the ball of your feet on the pegs…your heels will be facing upwards.

  • to move your weight on the inside of the turn and to “hang-off”, you will need to move your “ass” off the seat…and usually it’s so that you have only one cheek remaining on the bike…so, for a left turn, your right cheek will be on the left part of the seat. The movement to get your body off is basically a rotation around the tank…don’t push your weight towards the bake of the seat and swing your arse off…stay close to the tank and just slide off to the sides to make this work.

4- Now comes the fun part…We’ll say that this corner is a left hand 70~90 degree corner. Relax, keep your head up and look where you WANT to go…not at the side of the road…look as deep into the corner as you can. Naturally, you will lean the bike into the corner to follow your line and eyes…

5- Now, as you enter the corner, and your lean angle gets higher and higher, you’ll want to stabilize the bike by keeping the throttle on…just mildly…this way you will put more load on the rear tire and keep your grip…as this is done, the only thing left to do is to open up your leg so that your knee will face outwards…if all has gone well so far, you’ll be scraping your knee or be very close to it…

6, as your corner exit becomes visible, roll onto the throttle gently and get your drive out of your corner…that’s all it is…

You will probably have to attempt this manoeuvre a few times before getting it down but I suggest you take it little by little…

-Make sure to always relax and keep your body loose…being tight and crisp will upset the bike and willonly make things more difficult and frustrating…

Here are a few shots of the masters doing it…good luck!!

The “man” himeself…Dr Rossi

OOOOPPPsss…how did that get in here!! :blush::wink:

Thanks guys. :notworthy: Naturally I’m not looking to use this technique in Taipei traffic. Maybe out in the mountains. :sunglasses: If you see a white guy with the knees of his jeans very much intact, one half of his arse off the seat while still upright, that’ll be me.

(and yeah I know you shouldn’t do it in jeans, I’m actually about to go look for some knees pads :blush: )

I’ve been reviewing cornering techniques on road bikes for 3 reasons.

  1. I was in a bike shop and watching amateur video where the road riders were leaning the bike into sweeping corners with knee out and body upright. (I thought “that looks really wrong, but I’ve got to check”)

  2. I’m going riding for a week in the UK on a road bike with a tour group who seem to be into speed so I’ve got to get my road riding skills up.

  3. Can’t remember, I knew 3 when I started typing 1.

As Joesax mentions, it just seems to be common sense riding at slower speeds on tricky surfaces to ride differently. I tend to go.

Really slick like wet hard clay: Body and bike upright and just hope to make it around the corner at a snails pace and if I was on a dirt bike I’d be looking for something to bounce the wheels off like a curb or ridge if it started dropping out.

Slippery gravel: As in the blue writing above. You can put a foot out and dab the ground if you start to slip out and also throw the bike a bit upright and hope to stay up.

Suddenly find an oil slick on an otherwise dry fast corner. Slide along the ground like in the luge feet first and try to vary the contact points so you abrade evenly.

[quote]Hanging Off. Form or Function? Technique or Technology?

A good riding technique is harmonious with and compliments machine technology.

We hang off the bike to lower the combined Center of Gravity of the bike and rider. A useful technique. When it is only done for the form or to look cool, the reason for doing it becomes lost and the form becomes counter-productive. Form and function are another way of saying technique and technology.

Hanging off really is a perfect example. When we see a rider hanging their butt and leg off the inside of the bike we say they are hanging off; that is the form.[color=blue] But, when we see their head and torso crisscrossed back over the tank we have to take a look at the function, at the technology of it, to determine if it is good, bad or has no effect.

In this case, the upper body mass across the tank counters the butt and leg so nothing is gained. Additionally, riders tend to be stiff on the bike in this position. Therefore it is not only counter-productive but actually has a negative effect. Aside from its one saving grace–it looks and feels good to the rider sometimes-it is creating additional problems.[/color]

There is no machine technology that will maintain the lowered C of G if the rider’s technique counters that basic purpose.[/quote]

Interesting article at

I was not aware of the forces operating as in the diagram below.

This is also called outtracking

I like this pic…he has his elbow touching the ground…and it’s raining a little.

Well, I still can’t find the website I mentioned. As I said, it made sense to me at the time why on a dodgy road surface you’d want to lean the bike over more than yourself. There was a neat explanation with diagrams and everything. But I can’t find it.

Plasmatron’s alternative explanation makes a lot of sense. Offroad, you want to ensure that the back wheel keeps slipping and doesn’t suddenly grip and send you flying over the handlebars.

There’s another reason to keep your body more upright than the bike sometimes while riding on public roads. You can see further round corners. Well of course you can’t literally see round corners, but you know what I mean.