Bike Handling: Cornering and Straight Lines

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Bike Handling: Cornering and Straight Lines



Many people already do this effectively without thinking about it. But if you feel unsteady on turns or your turns could be tighter or more graceful you might benefit from the following tips. Practice on quiet roads with little traffic.

  1. Slow down enough to maintain your line (and not veer out into the road) but not enough to lose your momentum. Finding the right balance will come with practice, but make sure you slow down before the turn braking too hard during the turn can skid your rear wheel out into the road (and you along with it).
  2. Foot position: up on inside of turn.
  3. To execute the turn lean first; don t over steer. If you steer first without leaning you will tend to start to fall over to the outside and will have to catch yourself to regain balance. Your turns will be even smoother if you can lean just the lower half of your body using your hips (leaning your bike with them) while keeping your shoulders level. This will allow you to do tighter turns, e.g. the 90 degree turns on the George Washington Bridge.
  4. Without you thinking about it, your bike will then steer gently to follow the lean and bring front wheel back under bike. You do a subtle version of this all the time to keep from falling down every time you wobble on the bike. You can see your bike do this on its own if you walk alongside it and lean it to one side the bike will turn the front wheel to the same side to regain an upright position.
  5. If you have to brake during the turn, feather.
  6. Start pedaling again just past the turn s apex to add momentum to finish the turn.

Straight line riding:

  • is simply visualizing and maintaining a line without veering or wobbling
  • is the most efficient way to ride between 2 points
  • is the safest way to ride with a group or alone because it makes your riding more predictable to others on the road

There is a strong tendency to go where you look. Avoid fixating on road hazards or you may run into them. Instead, constantly scan--ahead, to the sides, riders ahead, hand signals, etc., while moving straight ahead.

It s challenging to maintain your line while looking backwards, but you have to do it to safely check behind (without veering into traffic) before turning left. Practice on a quiet, straight street with little traffic: first glance behind to your left for a split second. Don t worry about what you see at first, just focus on a quick neck movement back and forward again. If you have wobbled, straighten your direction. Repeat whenever there s a quiet stretch without traffic or road hazards. Once you can do this without wobbling you re ready to try looking behind for a second to actually see what s behind you.

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