Cornering Part 1: Technical and psychological basics

Table of contents

Cornering Part 1: Technical and psychological basics



Cornering Part 1: Technical and psychological basics

Cornering Part 1: Technical and psychological basics
Drive properly through the curves

It is the special attraction of motorcycles that they need to be leaned for cornering. MOTORRAD gives tips for the safe and enjoyable handling of tilted horizon lines.

Ralf Schneider


Cornering in a single-track vehicle – fortunately, most of us learned it as children on a bike, because it consists of a long series of deliberately initiated and then recovered near falls. Against this physical background, the earliest possible experience is psychologically valuable so that it actually works. And mostly even without a fall.

If you initiate a curve with the motorcycle, for example a left turn, you do so with a short steering angle in the opposite direction. The skew of the tire creates a tilting moment to the left, the motorcycle with everything on it falls into a lean position. There would be a slap on the road if the driver didn’t stop the tipping with a steering impulse to the left – this results in a righting moment. If this works for too long, the lean angle is reduced, the curve radius increases, and the motorcycle threatens to drift off the road. So a steering impulse to the right counteracts this, the resulting tilting moment increases the lean angle, it has to be supported again by steering to the left and so on. Regardless of whether the motorcyclist is driving fast or slowly, braking or accelerating in addition – he controls his journey with this constant alternation of opposing steering impulses. Incidentally, not only in curves, but also straight ahead. This shows how important smooth steering is. Flawless condition and precise setting of the steering head bearings (if in doubt, better a little looser) as well as correctly laid cables and cable harnesses are fundamental requirements for sensitive steering.

You don’t have to be aware of what has just been described while driving, it would even be counterproductive. Much more important for safe, speedy cornering is the correct line of sight, which in turn is facilitated by the correct seating position. The driver not only sees the traffic situation with his eyes, especially the course and condition of the road, but also literally sees the line that he will follow in a few seconds beforehand. In the ideal case, the transition from one route section to the other succeeds in such a way that these are not perceived as sections, but as a seamless sequence. Everyone will then have the impression that they only steered their motorcycle through the curves with their eyes. The hands on the handlebars automatically gave the necessary impulses.

Unfortunately, such an ideal driving experience is often disrupted in practice because the driver has reached his own limits. Keyword fear of leaning. For example, many people turn very early into downhill left-hand bends because they are afraid of too great a lean angle, just to keep their distance from the guardrail. But even if there is no car coming towards you that forces you to hectic swerving, this early turning leads to exactly what the insecure driver actually wanted to avoid: As the curve progresses, the centrifugal forces pull his motorcycle further and further towards the plank. Now don’t look outwards and hit the plank while maintaining your personal maximum incline, but consciously look away from the roadside and lay, lay, lay the machine. But that’s exactly what you can’t just be able to do. The inherited basic psychological equipment of humans does not tolerate an incline of more than 20 degrees. 45 degrees or even more is possible without any problems on a dry road, but you have to train constantly. That goes for everyone. Experienced and talented pilots will certainly practice on a different bank angle than a normal beginner, but they too need regular refresher sessions.

Safety training courses with extensive circular orbit journeys convey knowledge about posture and head posture when leaning heavily and a feeling for the lateral forces that modern tires can transfer. Multiple repetitions with intermediate breaks make it possible to process the impressive experience of sloping horizon lines. In the next step, guided racetrack training, during which the instructors gradually increase the pace, can help to master the newly learned lean angles even at 150 instead of 50 km / h. In any case, the primary goal of the exercise is not the ability to drive at an angle of 48 or 52 degrees, even if the repetition “lay, lay, lay” as used above could be interpreted that way. It is more a matter of mastering higher cornering speeds. The greater inclination then comes on its own.

Conclusion: Safe and enjoyable cornering is the result of your own work. Every opportunity to keep yourself and your motorcycle fit should be used.

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