As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, every time I ride I make an effort to improve at least one aspect of my skills. Every ride is a practice ride in one way or another. Lately I’ve been focusing on my cornering technique when riding my 2012 GSX-R750.
The chicken strips on my Shinko 011 Verge tires are down to 3/8″ wide on the rear tire and 1/4″ on the front, yet the knee pucks on my AGVSport leathers are as shiny and untouched as the day I bought them. Leaning off when cornering is a lot of fun, and as I’ve been practicing, it has been the comfortable way to go around a curve.
One thing I’ve figured out is that if a technique feels uncomfortable or unstable, or if it feels unsafe, then I’m probably doing something wrong. Conversely, if I go around a corner smoothly and easily, then whatever I was doing was probably correct.
The single most important aspect of cornering I’ve learned seems to be looking ahead, through the turn. Doing so makes any corner smoother and more stable. Once that aspect of my technique became rote, the next thing I worked on was my grip. I make sure my hands are relatively loose and that I don’t have a death grip on the bars. This reduces fatigue and increases my endurance. It also avoids zigzagging through the curve.
The next thing I’ve addressed has been my body position. I grip the tank with my knees and support my weight with my legs, freeing up weight on my hands and wrists. By doing so, I’m able to finesse the front end more easily. In the curve, I use my legs to shift my weight across the seat to the inside of the bike. I press the inside of my outside thigh against the tank to help support my weight. My chest is pressed down against my tank bag, my inside elbow is kept loose, and my hands keep a slightly loose hold on the grips.
The final piece of this equation is my head position. I point my chin ahead through the curve and even keep my eyes steady. I noticed that even if I kept my head in a single position, if my eyes were wandering around my cornering was jerky. Now, I maintain a steady head and eye position as I go through the turn. This makes my cornering smooth and easy and more enjoyable.
Taking a corner at speed with good technique is almost anti-climactic. Entering the corner is smooth, using both deceleration on the throttle and an easy application of the brake. I smoothly shift my body to the inside of the bike using my legs, not my hands, I hold a steady head and eye position through the curve using gentle throttle inputs, and as I transition out of the corner I use a smooth application of throttle. As I accelerate out of the corner, the bike stands up and I again use my legs to smoothly shift my body back onto the center of the seat.
When it’s all done, as I continue onward, I have a smile on my face and a realization that nothing abrupt happened, there was no jerkiness or zigzagging around the corner. It was smooth and I approach the next curve with a feeling of confidence and control.