18 Jan 2012

People love cycling. Whether you are highly competitive or cycle for leisure purposes, there is a method to the act. Learning the proper way to do things is a benefit in many ways. It supports safety, durability, and performance. The following article addresses the act of “cornering.” There are several factors contributing to the cycling maneuver. Some with years of cycling experience never took the time to properly read and learn about cornering.

The science of cornering

Your center of gravity is of great importance. Surfers, gymnasts, trapeze artists, ballet dancers, and cyclists all depend on the manipulation of their center of gravity. Your center of gravity in relation to your saddle is what turns your bike. The handlebars are often labeled responsible for turning, but other than at low speeds, this is not so. If you move the saddle left, the bike will lean and turn left.

Bike control equals the control of your sense of gravity in relation to the centerline of the bike.

There are a few “forces” at play when cornering:

- Gravity, which is pulling you and your bike down to the ground
- An opposing force, pulling in the opposite direction in which you are turning
- Diagonal, the combination of these two forces meeting

Gravity remains equal, so the other forces will determine the flow of the turn:

- If your opposing force increases in intensity, the diagonal will become wider or more arched
- As your opposing force shortens or decreases in intensity, the diagonal comes more comparable with gravity or a straight line

The trick in efficiently turning lies in your ability to keep the center line of your bike in unison with gravity and the opposing force while keeping the center line of your bike between that of your own center of gravity and the direction at which the turn is pulling you.

For proper technique:

- Sit relaxed on your saddle
- Dig the tires into the ground a bit for traction purposes
- Let your bike arch through the corner
- Keep your upper body and head low and towards the inside so your head is just above the inside brake lever
- Keep a constant arching line through the corner
- You and your bike will follow your eyes- Look ahead into the corner to stay on course
- Attempt to go from the outside, to the inside, to the outside in order to “open up” the curve (If you are engaged in a series of turns, you would have to modify your positioning to consider the multiple maneuvers)

Before you approach the corner

Before approaching the corner, read the surroundings ahead. Consider road conditions before you lean into the corner:

- Is the road wet
- Are there other riders in the turn
- Are there other riders around me
- What is the road surface- rock, sand, etc.

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