Knowing how to take a corner properly may be the difference of winning or losing the race or staying alive or crashing out. Cornering is a little bit more complicated to learn. Once practiced and learned, cornering at high speeds will become very natural.
Types of Corners
Before taking a corner, you should ask yourself what type of corner you are approaching and then adjust your your braking techniques. For example, if the turn is banked, you need to brake a lot less than if it is off-camber.
If the radius is tight, set up quickly, be prepared to apply the brakes and move to the front of the bike. If the radius is wide, don’t use too much braking, select the smoothest line and don’t position yourself too far forward.
There are a number of types of corners that need different types of approaches.
- Bermed corners – also known as a banked corner. The outer perimeter of the type of corner may be slightly to steeply raised. Speeds may be maintained in taking this corner. Approach the corner as wide and as high as possible in order to sustain the initial speed.
- Off-camber corners – Off-camber corners are the complete opposite of bermed corners. This may feel unnatural since the bank sloping down against the corner. Example, you are approaching a curve to the left and the top of the slope is in the inside of the curve and sloping down to the outer side of the curve. Try to approach this corner with high speed so you don’t have to pedal so much if the slope becomes to steep because if this is the case, the pedal might get caught in the slope and cause you to crash.
- Flat turns – this may be the easiest type of turn that a rider may encounter. The fastest and shortest way around this corner is by taking the “apex”. This is achieved by taking the outer lane. By leaning towards the corner, shift to the inside of the corner then just go back out to the outside of the corner upon exiting. This is ideal if the terrain allows it. If the terrain is to rocky or too slippery for this approach, then you may just have to compromise the fastest line and adapt to the corner and take the safer more appropriate route.
- Decreasing radius corner – this type of corner gets narrower and tighter as it goes. Leaning alone won’t cut it out. Some steering has to be actually done. More often than not, this corner is also off-camber. The combination of the two types will be very technical and will require a lot of practice. Dealing with a decreasing radius corner is to choose an apex point. Approach the apex then brake until locking the rear wheel causing a skid for a second in order to turn to the apex. Don’t lock the rear wheel too long so as not to loose momentum. Then take the widest line out of the curve. This move will take a lot of practice so don’t despair if you don’t get in on the first try.
- Increasing radius corner – this type of corner widens as it goes along. Approaching the corner tightly is the key here. Even though the corner widens, you wouldn’t want to take the widest line since this would be the longest. Keeping tight slightly applying the brakes to slow down a bit and shifting to a lower gear. This will help gain speed easily after the corner without using too much energy.
Once you have read the turn and are braking properly, determine the Type of Terrain. Is it hard and slippery, soft and slippery, soft and tacky, rough and tacky, or something else entirely? Evaluating the surface helps determine Weight Distribution.
- Hard: If the turn is slippery, lean forward to get maximum front-wheel traction.
- Soft: If it’s soft, lean back to counterbalance deceleration.
- Tacky: If it’s tacky, ride with your weight in the middle of the bike.
- Rough: When the ground is rough, stay back and follow the bike. Let the bike bounce around underneath you.
When two conditions are combined in the same turn, simply adapt the best technique for dealing with the corner’s specifics.
How to position your foot
One of your feet, that is the one that is inside the corner, can help you a lot by making the corner. Until you are experience this foot should always help you to make the turn as fast as possible and to stay on the bike.
- Foot-out: Taking your inside foot off the pedal (motocross-style) is the easiest way to turn when first starting out. With your foot hanging out, you can use it as a rudder when you get in trouble.
- Feet-up: Once you understand when to put your foot out, you can begin to leave it on the pedals. You might corner faster with your foot out, but you will accelerate out of the corner faster with your feet up.
Make the turn itself
To take corners fast, is being done by reading the turn well and braking just enough for the conditions. Add the Weight Distribution techniques, and you are certainly going to improve your cornering technique.
- Brake before you go in the turn. Your speed should have decreased such, that it is not necessary anymore to brake in the corner. The only thing you should be worrying about in the corner, is to steer, your weight distribution and your inside foot.
- Balance yourself between the handlebars and saddle.
- Keep your inside pedal up and push your body weight onto the outside pedal.
- On extreme corners you may want to drop your inside foot to dab on the ground if you start to slide.
- As you complete the bend check your exit line.
- Look along your desired route through the corner.
This is the last of the techniques you need to learn in Mountain Biking. Once you know how to do all techniques, keep them in mind and apply them the next time you go Mountain Biking. Now, get to know the Mountain Biking Gear and Equipment that you will need in the following sections.