Turning with your legs

Turning your bike and turning a car are two completely different things.  Not just because a car has more wheels, but it’s the way in which you turn.  On your bike, you never just turn the bars; you lean into the corner.  So, if you think about it, turning your bike is a whole body action, not just an upper body motion.  However, if you listen to all of the pros, they all use their legs much more than most riders would think.  Having your legs help you corner can give you that little extra edge you need.

Let’s get the basics down.  By now, you should know that you need to come into a corner, gripping with your knees.  This helps the bike settle down in the braking bumps and gives you more control with less headshake.  As you start to lean over, you also want to begin weighting the outside foot peg.  Combined with your elbows squared up, this provides you with as much traction as possible to the front wheel.  You can also press your outside knee against the radiator shroud for more traction as well.

Okay, so you have heard that a million times before.  What else could there possibly be?  Well, this little technique really applies to sweepers and bowl turns, but also to the exits of corners.  When you bring your inside leg back up to the foot peg, you can begin to help steer the bike with your legs.  It’s almost like having a dumbbell between your feet.  When you try to turn the dumbbell you pivot your hips and put more emphasis on your outside toes and inside heel.  It may sound weird, but try to turn something heavy with your feet; it is the same principle when you are riding your bike.

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When you do this, you are driving the bike in the direction you want while you are still gripping with your knees.  When you are exiting a corner and you are feeling like you are swinging out too far, get your elbow up and start to “twist” your lower body.  Your butt doesn’t need to be hanging off the side of the seat, but a steady amount of force should help you keep your line.  This works really well with sweepers, so try it there to get a feel for this.  Over time it will be second nature.

Posted on Nov 05 2009, under Riding Techniques | No Comments »

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