Help Needed, Cornering & Turning Tips

If you have to brake in the turn, only use the rear brake. I find this allows the bike to better maintain lean whereas touching the front brake makes the bike want to come up a little straighter (I think I might have read that in McCormick’s MTB book). I also prefer the Davis Phinney method, which definitely varies from what you see most racers doing. Phinney recommends moving your inside knee in towards the top tube - sometimes I actually find my knee touching the top tube - whereas many others and racers often have their inside knees away from the bike and pointing into the turn. Maybe this is also b/c I find this more comfortable as I’m also a skier and this relates to angulation and getting more weight over the tires. Try each one out and see what you feel most comfortable with. I still find myself leaning my inside knee into the turns sometimes … which I find to work better at slower speeds.

I love this thread - all these tips and tricks are great but honestly the best way to learn how to corner is to go do it.

Find someone who is a better bike handler than you are and try to hold their wheel through a turn at 20, then 25, then 30, so on and so forth.

You can practice technique and read about it all you want - but this is something that requires muscle memory and confidence. By all means, go try out every tip and piece of advice in this thread - but at some point you’ve got to get your reps in and finding a faster more confident wheel to follow will help you level up this skill faster than any amount of reading or advice

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It is definitely preferable for the rear wheel to lose traction than the front wheel. As a MTBer, I don’t panic when I slide out a little, I know how to catch it. But you need to practice that and feel comfortable doing that. For if you panic, things can go wrong quickly.

Instead of supporting upper body weight with both hands (as during normal riding), bias it into the inner hand, while the outer one is still attached, but feels unweighted. It works better in drops too.

Watch Vincenzo Nibali


Regarding front or rear brake, you have to understand what brake does what and when to use which, which combination and what amounts. Touching your rear brake while already braking hard will just make you skid since the rear tyre is already almost lifting off the ground. The majority of braking is always done on the front since there is much more weight and traction while braking there.

However, when on loose or wet surface, if you brake hard at the front the rear won’t lift, the front will wipe out and you’re on the ground. So loose/wet surface is totally different from dry asphalt with sticky tyres, as is cornering on loose surface (mtb) and road bike (asphalt).

Once again, motorbike techniques. Most cyclists are slow in corners, no matter ftp or what category they’re in. I always rest in corners and still leave gaps behind me. (I rarely brake in corners at all while on a bicycle, unless I see gravel or other dirt. On a motorbike there’s always a lot of braking going fast into corners.)

+1 to this. That’s something I’m still working on for both road and MTB. It feels safer to use more rear brake, but you just can slow down as fast.

Under these conditions, i really focus on getting all my braking done before the corner. Nothing more scary than finding you have to brake mid turn on a fast downhill when the road surface is slick.

I realize instructing what NOT to do is not as constructive as what to do but, just in case this is you…

Every once in a while I see someone who, for whatever reason, feels the need to lead/lean into the turn with their head and shoulders. This changes CG, moves hips so that the body is not “square” over the bike.

Also, many people seem to like to drop the knee like they are moto GP superstar guy. It doesn’t do anything to make you corner better on a bicycle.

  • Counterpoint (and directly from the AACC Episode 207 last week), they say that a slight turn of the waist/hips into the direction of the corner is beneficial. As a result of that twist, the knee tends to lean towards the inside as well. They aren’t advocating the main knee drag approach, but saying that a dip inside is likely a side effect of the waist/hip twist.

I stick my knee out when cornering, not hanging off and down, just out but also to give myself a little more room to prevent that one rider that will try to go on the inside.

Well, not an expert for sure, but two rules that helped me out a ton.

Rule #1: Keep your outside foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke through the turn. Concentrate on keeping weight on that foot.

Rule #2: Don’t lean with the bike. The angle your torso makes with the ground should be greater than the angle your bike frame makes with the ground. Your bike leans more than your torso…not the same. This moves your center of gravity more over the contact patch of your tires and steers the bike through a shorter radius of curvature.

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I posted this in another thread but it would be good here too.

Here is a great podcast to learn proper technique for cornering. Although it is about motorcycles the same principles apply to bikes. He’s coached people at the world level of motorcycle racing and domestic.

The best and basic advice is in the first 25 or so episodes.

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Sorry, not read the thread, but I’d advise riding with people that are better at cornering than you. Ask one of your clubmates to spend a bit of time helping you get more confident.

In terms of drills, get a look at the Speed Skills sessions in the Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. Some of the sessions you need a buddy, but can be fun.

Just published, and specifically gravel based with a focus on descending, but JOM does a good job of hitting on some relevant points for cornering.

And here is the obligatory google search result for videos on the topic:


That’s more what I meant. Obviously you lean a little, twist a little, lower the knee a little etc…a video is worth a million words. Here is what I meant is bad technique with the head/shoulders/twisting/leaning. Remi Cavagna during the descent stage 3 ToC 2019:


Knee/head/body leans into the corner to move the center of gravity inwards so you don’t have to lean your bike as much - more traction! Some people are afraid of being close to the asphalt with their bodies when cornering so they twist their body and lean the bike while maintaining an upright body (typical newbie sign). Straight, locked arms and a straight back are also newbie signs.
Dragging knees is of course only applicable on superbikes, mostly on track, where you want to feel where the limit is so you don’t lean so much that you hit your pegs and slide off.

Here’s a video on trail braking:

There are videos about counter steering as well, but I can summarize it quickly:

  • To turn a bike at speed you need to lean it.
  • To lean it to the left and turn left, you need to twist the bars to the right.
  • To straighten the bike, you need to twist the bars into the corner.
  • To lean and turn more, you twist more out of the corner.

At 200 km/h, 250 kg, you need to apply a lot of force to make the damn thing lean and turn. You twist as hell towards the right to lean and turn left. On a bicycle, this is mostly done sub-consciously, but as speeds get higher with less margins, it should be done consciously for better control and quicker steering.

Find a descent, and roll down, no pedalling, plant the outside foot into the pedal. This way you can set yourself up for a corner. When you become comfortable, start pedalling, Break down descending into chunks and join them together. Rolling down, no breaking, then add pedalling, and breaking.

Most people doing road bike cornering videos aren’t good at cornering.

I don’t understand this at all. How can you turn the handlebars to the right, in order to turn left?