Riding in the mountains or other roads with both flowing corners and tight bends is always enjoyable on a motorcycle, but it’s often in these locations where roads are less well maintained or even contain blind spots where dangers and hazards can sometimes only be spotted at the last minute. Let’s take a look at how you can stay safe and property avoid mid-corner hazards on your motorcycle.
Get Your Lines Right
When riding on a track, the idea solution for taking corners is to approach the corner as as widely as possible, turn in late and hit the apex. On the road, you should try do tthe first, definitely do the second and avoid the third.
Ideally you want to enter a corner by sticking as far to the outside of the lane as possible. Unfortunately on roads, this is often where debris is situated as its pushed off the road by cars and other vehicles. Hence, the theoretically perfect entry point isn’t always possible. Therefore, you need to approach the corner wide – but only so much that you’re not getting on dust, dirt and other debris.
Approaching a corner from the outside does two things – in means you don’t have to turn so tightly which gives you more flexibility to lean the bike over if a hazard presents itself and secondly it gives you a better view of what’s coming up around the corner.
This is where a late turn in point makes such a difference. The later you turn in, the less lean angle you need and also the further around the corner you will see. Turning in too soon not only makes the corner tighter, it reduces your vision around the bend. Most riders naturally start turning in towards the apex as soon as entering the corner, but ideally you shouldn’t turn in until approximately a third of the way in. This will of course depend on the type of corner, as decreasing radius turns require an even later turn-in point while increasing radius corners can be approached more casually.
On the open road, it’s critical that your apex is not in the middle of the road. While visually it makes sense to hit near the dividing lines of a road, this is a recipe for disaster. Firstly, if you’re in any way hanging off your bike it’s quite possible that your head is entering the opposite lane. Secondly, it takes only a rulers length for a car coming in the opposite direction to enter your lane and create a head on collision. Therefore, your apex really should be at a point one metre in from the centre dividing line. This gives adequate room for a safety buffer for oncoming traffic.
Throttle And Brake Control
While lines are important, the speed at which you’re coming into a corner and your control of it are just as important. No matter what type of corner you’re approaching or where you’re riding, you should be completing your braking maneuver as you are about to enter the corner.
Trail braking is a wonderful technique that allows you not only to continue to wipe off speed when leaned over, but given that the suspension has already settled with brake application, allows you to slow even more with reduced risk of crashing should a hazard arise.
Once you’ve begun your turn-in, throttle should be applied consistently and smoothly while exiting. Again, depending on the corner type is when you will start accelerating. On an increasing radius turn you can begin acceleration before the apex whereas on a tightening turn it’s generally best to begin acceleration at the apex.
Keep in mind that if you come off the throttle abruptly or apply the brakes mid-corner with a moderate amount of force, the bike will stand up and push wide. If you’re in a turn on the inside lane, that has the potential to push you into oncoming traffic. If a hazard appears, it is always best to hold the throttle where it is and swerve to avoid the danger rather than braking which gives you less options.
As is always drummed into riders, look at where you’re going, not just in front of you. When blind corners are involved that is easier said than done but the idea is still the same – turn your head and look as far ahead as possible in turns to give you enough time to react to mid-corner hazards.
Signs, the condition of the road previously traveled and the speed of other vehicles going in the opposite direction will often give you some idea of what’s ahead. If a car coming the other way comes around the corner at a very slow pace it may indicate a hazard up ahead. If the last section of road has had poor surface quality, there’s a good chance the next corner will too.
As stated before, vision is greatly improved when you approach a corner wide and late.