Successful Cornering In Four Easy Steps

Here’s a quick ‘how to’ on cornering.

Following is a description of the four steps that every cyclist should go through when navigating a turn.

Step 1 – Look and Plan

Let your eyes lead you through the turn.  Look where you want to go.  Examine the road surface and avoid debris.  If you can see around the corner, look ahead so you can respond accordingly to oncoming traffic.  If possible, stay inside the road’s center line and do not cross over into the oncoming traffic lane.

 Step 2 — Set-up/Approach

Accelerate or brake BEFORE you enter the turn.   Given the angle of the turn (90 degrees, 45 degrees, etc.), the width of the road, condition of the road surface, and bank of the turn, choose your line through the corner.  Enter the turn at a speed you feel you can comfortably maintain through your entire cornering line.

Step 3 — Execution

While you are in the arc of the turn, keep your outside foot in the 6 o’clock position.  This will raise your inside foot to the top of the pedal stroke.  Apply weight to your outside foot to help counterbalance the bicycle as it travels through the arc of the turn.  Keep your inside knee close to your bike’s top tube and pointed straight ahead — do not point your inside knee towards the inside apex of the turn.  You are not riding a 700 lb. motorcycle, so you do not need to severely lean the bike over into the corner and you don’t need that much counterbalancing!  Gently lean the bike into the turn, keeping your arms slightly bent and hips positioned over the center of the saddle.  When you are in the turn, do not tense up or move your body around on the bicycle.  These two body positioning extremes can have disastrous consequences.  Do not brake when you are in the sharpest section of arc of the turn (approaching the apex, within the apex, and exiting the apex) unless absolutely necessary.  If you must brake in the arc of the turn, apply pressure to the brake levers smoothly, gently, and sparingly.  It is important to keep both wheels spinning at the same speed while in the turn.  Do not look down at the road beneath your bicycle.  Remember to keep your head up and look where you want your bicycle to go.

Step 4 — Acceleration

When you have rounded the apex of the turn, the arc you are traveling will become more shallow until you straighten out.  At this point, when the bicycle is fully upright, you can accelerate, using the momentum of the turn to help catapult you up the road.  Capitalize on this inertia, especially if you are racing.

That’s it.  Four simple steps.  Master them and you will be ready for aything… even those steep, downhill, off-camber, blind corner turns that scare the bejeezus out of the most experienced cyclists.


About The Author

AaronSHC-LAAaron Hanson (a.k.a The Cap’n) is manager of the Southern California Colavita – Children of War Foundation Regional Amateur Team.  A 27-year veteran of the sport and lifestyle of cycling, Aaron has raced both road and mountain bikes, advocated for bicycle transportation funding and facilities at the city, county, state, and federal levels, planned and facilitated numerous bicycle events, and helped several municipalities and counties create viable bikeway master plans.

Aaron has been honored by IMBA, CORBA, Clif Bar, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Ventura, the City of Simi Valley, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate for his bicycle advocacy work.  He has even won a bike race or two.

Aaron can be contacted via e-mail at:

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