LeanIn Cornering©

LeanIn Cornering© Concepts

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The objective of LeanIn Cornering©  Concepts is to provide rider training utilizing relevant information, how-to bike handling skills and drills that will make for a better and safer rider.

Riding drills are a part of our ‘classroom’ for teaching the proper techniques to improve your bike handling abilities as well as riding into a corner and exiting out of a corner and brief lectures on techniques.

Rider training is possibly the most valuable aspect of riding, for any type of rider. For beginners and novices to seasoned riders. Our BST© (BrakeSteerTurn©) methods and coaching will help you to gain confidence by attaining more control over your machine.



#ridercoaching #ridertrainng #skillsanddrills

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Corner… stone

Welcome to another article in the BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) Series.

In this edition, we are going to focus on very aggressive riding and racing techniques, rather than our usual tact of club, avid and casual riding techniques.

If you have been following along with our program, you will already know of the three most key skill sets needed for riding on two wheels:
•Situational Awareness
•Spatial Judgement
•Visual Perception/Vision

So instead of re-hashing the critical elements of implementing each of those core skills, we will focus mainly on fast cornering technique.  One of just many aspects that will separate a good rider from a mediocre rider is being able to ‘Read‘ a corner. What does that mean? Well, each corner will always present a different challenge. Every corner will vary in radius, length and line of sight. So it is imperative that a rider be able to break down a corner in order to take advantage of what a particular corner has to offer.

The objective of getting through any corner, is taking the straightest line possible. The most efficient way through the corner, will usually wind up being the fastest and the most efficient line will have a rider maximizing the radius. Typically, a rider will spend more time in the deceleration mode rather than in the acceleration mode through a corner. So the objective is to either balance that time or reduce the amount of deceleration. Seconds count!  😀

Remember, radius determines speed. What? The more lean angle applied to a bike, the slower the corner speed will be. So maximizing the radii or radius MEANS, minimizing bike lean. Leaning the body along with light counter steering while leaning the bike as little as possible will typically ensure faster overall corner speed.

Reading a corner takes a lot of practice, it takes focus and patience. At speed, especially hard riding or racing a rider has only fractions of seconds to determine what type of corner he or she is approaching. Is it a constant radii? An increasing radii? A decreasing radii corner, a chicane or a hairpin? (this is where vision and spatial judgment are so very critical)

Racing line.svg
In the above Constant Radius single apex corner, of the three lines only two are acceptable for carrying sufficient speed through a corner. The light blue line suggests a wide arc approach also known as ‘squaring off’ a corner. The green line is more of a traditional racing line, which requires a precise entry, but will yield the most speed on corner exit. While the dark blue line is an example of turning in too early, which results in a very wide exit. This will almost always conclude in having to slow down and forsake corner speed in order to stay on the road.  #lostseconds

Along with assessing the geographical layout of a corner, a rider must be able to ‘read’ the entry, the apex and the exit of any specific corner in order to take the most efficient line. Then throw in the condition of the road surface, objects and any potential hazards. Again, all of this must happen and be processed in fractions of seconds. For aggressive, fast riding styles and/or racing 1 or 2 seconds is a luxury, it is an eternity. And it can be the difference between making a corner or not making a corner… #crashboombang

Implementing good cornering technique is vital to fast and safe cornering. Body Position. Vision. Execution. Riding on instinct is hands-down the incorrect and wrong way to ride. As humans, we are wired to ‘listen’ and/or ‘react’ to our fight or flight instincts. Otherwise known as (SRs) Survival Reactions. SRs are a riders WORST enemy. SRs include; Panicking, Tensing up, Target Fixation and using unnecessary Braking . So if riding fast or racing is the goal, then overcoming these SR instincts are absolutely necessary.

Body Position:
Fast riding or racing requires the use of both the upper and lower portions of the body. Steering with the hands, as well as slightly pivoting the upper body and the hips to assist the lean of the bike into a corner. A simple trick I learned many moons ago and now  teach is ‘chin above the wrist’ when cornering. This can also aid a rider in performing any mid-corner corrections if necessary. AND don’t forget, eyes up, Head up- ALWAYS. The number 1 Cardinal Sin of riding… is dropping the head and the eyes.

By keeping the body inline with the bike, it will be necessary to apply more lean in a corner to match the radius, which will result in deceleration. In contrast, leaning the body just slightly more than the bike will keep more of a tire contact patch under the bike and therefore carry more exit speed out of the corner (This is a common and proven practice in mountain biking) Obviously, exhausting the edge grip of a tire will have negative results.

As far being in the ‘drops’ or in the ‘hoods’ it makes absolutely NO difference, it simply comes down to rider preference and choice. You may argue and think otherwise, (CoM, blah, blah blah) but this is one of those narratives that has proven to be false. In fact, riding in the hoods will actually give a rider slightly more leverage.

Also key, is being relaxed and ‘loose’ on the bike will allow a rider to be in sync with the machine, as the Applied Forces are acting against rider and bike. Being tense, or stiff in the saddle with too much pressures on the bars will sacrifice control and invite instability. Set your entry speed with light smooth braking, then release as you pick a precise turn-in point. Steer and lean the body in conjunction and the bike will follow the gyroscopic path of the corner. By using the upper and lower body together a rider will find that the bike steers more easily with less effort and increased stability.

 Notice at 7 seconds in how just a light and short pull on the (left side) brake lever ‘sets’ corner entry speed. This enables bike and rider to maximize mid-corner and exit speed. Also notice that the braking only lasts for 2 seconds. Minimizing ‘deceleration’ is a key component to efficient cornering.

Keeping the FOV (Field of Vision) operating at every second is paramount. Constantly scanning the foreground while intently focusing on the background. Now, some might say this seem counter-intuitive, but it really isn’t. Focusing on the foreground will lessen the amount of time a rider has to act and react to the road and changing conditions. By not focusing on the background, a rider may not see a potential problem before it is too late. Sacrificing just a tenth of a second at speed could be the difference of experiencing a crash or near miss or not. By keeping the vision as far up the road as possible, a rider has more time to act and react to all of the conditions.

The only way to become proficient at fast cornering is to practice it. Believe it or not, the best way isn’t to go out and go fast at first. The best way to implement efficient riding techniques is to steadily progress from slower speeds to faster speeds. Executing the techniques of proper visual skills, body position and situational awareness takes time and patience, as previously stated. Practicing and improving ‘race craft’ with specific riding drills and working on awareness is a learning tool that has no shortcut.

Now get out there and practice… 😉

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Group Dynamics

LeanIn Cornering presents another article in the BST© series.

One of the typical common tenets of group rides is relying on others to point out obstacles and inform riders whether the lead rider(s) are slowing or stopping.

Good idea? Perhaps. It depends on the group in question. Who are the riders in the group? Are they well known to each other? Are they consistent week in, week out participants. But most importantly, are they PREDICTABLE? If yes, yes and yes are the answers, then it’s probably a decent method to implement.

BUT…if some or many riders in a specific group are unknown quantities, perhaps only show up once in awhile and are unpredictable. Then follow that pied-piper scenario at your own PERIL…

I have learned many, many things over the course of 25 years of riding on two-wheels. If you can’t lead, then follow, BUT follow your own wheel…not the wheel in front. What this means is, utilize Situational Awareness. Be aware AND stay aware of what is going at every moment on the ride. When I am in a group ( and it’s not too often for some of these reasons) I remain at all times, ever vigilant. On a very recent group ride, with one particular rider highlighted, reminded me  why this issue of awareness is SO important.

When riding, I assess all physical surrounding and immediate conditions; Road conditions, Weather conditions and Speed of the group. Do (all or most of) the riders hold a consistent and safe line? Does their speed ebb and flow too erratically? These are key indicators to observe and then assess.

I am constantly scanning the foreground, but more importantly the background of the road and my entire Field of Vision (FOV). I make sure that I am AWARE of any obstacles, the presence of animals on the side of the road and what the other riders are doing, (or not doing). By the time someone calls out an obstacle, potential hazard or animal I have seen it. Rarely do I miss something. Now this isn’t something of an egotistical statement, this is just part of my riding protocol. Being aware, being present but also focusing on the future. I.E. (the road ahead, the intersection 200 yards up, the driveways, the bends, the blind corners, etc.)

I am in control ( as much I can control a given situation or moment) I am taking responsibility for my own actions and reactions. I do not rely on anyone else to dictate my outcomes (if and when at all possible) Heads up riding or more appropriately, having and utilizing situational awareness is critical to a safe and efficient ride. By implementing these practices (along with the others we have talked about in previous posts) a rider can be ready for most whatever comes at them. If others cannot be relied upon to be predictable, then you must ride predictable and be accountable for  your own actions, at ALL times.

Relying on others to make you aware of what is happening on the road or in a group is executing poor riding practices. Sure, having someone else do the thinking is easy just cruise along on ‘autopilot’… It is a lazy habit and a bad habit at that! 😉
One that could and will eventually cost you. Whether that is in the form of skin, blood, bones or machine. You will pay… 😀  The question is then, can you afford the bill?


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Line Building… (Corner Entry & Exit)

Every corner has an entry, an apex and most importantly…an EXIT.  The ability to get the bike slowed enough to match the corner’s radius is paramount to a good, efficient exit. (Remember, radius determines speed)

Approaching a corner, a riders focus (in fractions of a second) shifts back and forth trying to
manage entry speed and varying braking pressure, while negotiating the geographical layout of the corner(s) or course. Subsequently, speed is sometimes hard to judge when it is constantly changing.

This is why it is SO important to go through the progressions of setting up for corner entry; selecting the proper line, braking (if any is needed) apexing, then focusing vision on and past the exit. Entering a turn, a riders primary objective should be to take the proper line and how much speed a they can maintain, not how much they need to slow. If a rider gets entry right, then 99.9% of the time, corner exit will be spot on.

Though the video is not so clear, we can see that Porte was off line for the left-hander in which he ran off. So the question is why was he off line? Well, we can speculate, but the most likely reason was that in the previous corner, he was off line as well. In all probability, he had entered the previous right hand corner to early, which put him out a bit wide on the exit of the right-hander, which subsequently, pushed him to the very inside of that left-hander, entering it way too early.

Think about this: At 30 mph a rider covers 44′ per sec. 35 mph = 51′ per sec.
40 mph = 59′ per sec. And at 50 mph a rider travels 73′ per second.

One of the problems with ‘blowing’ or ‘muffing’ a corner or series of corners, is that if you get one wrong, you’ll typically get the next one or two corners wrong as well. When corners are strung together in a short series, a rider cannot recover in time to be on the proper line. This is why it is critical to ‘line build’ as a rider goes through a corner or series of corners. Especially when the road or course is narrow, there just isn’t a lot of wiggle room. Mid-corner corrections are sometimes possible, but not on narrow winding roads, when speeds are high because direction changes happen very quickly.

It’s not wet/damp roads that cause a crash. It’s not the tyre and wheel itself locking up that are responsible for a crash. The MAIN
causation of almost all crashes is rider error. A rider who loses control of his or her machine, was/is the CAUSE of any crash. Inputs to the machine are critical. Not enough steering at the right moment will be consequential. Too much steering input can be just as detrimental. Too much braking pressure will have the ancillary effect of locking a wheel/tyre up, etc, etc.

But in the end, it is the RIDER who is in control or not… When a rider does not implement good tactics and/or good practices, a rider will often forsake control. You’re either riding the machine or you’re merely a passenger just ALONG for the ride… -which type of rider do you want to be!?

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Choosing Your Tires

From Jan Heine and Compass Tires
“A bike that absorbs [road/surface] shock better rolls faster. Narrow tires don’t have any speed advantage, and inflating your tires to the maximum often makes your bike slower.”

“wider simply is better. More grip, more comfort, same speed, fewer flats.”

Off The Beaten Path

We’ve experienced a profound revolution in road bikes in recent years: It used to be that to go fast, you rode narrow tires and pumped them up to the maximum pressure. If you wanted more comfort, you used wider tires and (maybe) lower pressures, but you knew that you’d be slower.

Now we know that comfort and speed aren’t opposed, but inextricably linked: A bike that absorbs shocks better rolls faster. Narrow tires don’t have any speed advantage, and inflating your tires to the maximum often makes your bike slower.

But what does this means in practical terms, when it comes to choosing new tires for your bike? Do you need to get a new bike with clearances for ultra-wide tires? Or is there a way to benefit from the “tire revolution” on your existing bike?

The simple guidelines below are based on more than a decade of research into…

View original post 1,009 more words

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Tyre and Suspension Basics

Though the video is specifically titled, “MotoGP Basics Tyre & Front Suspension” this short tutorial is a very good dynamic explanation of both the vertical (gravity) and lateral (radial or centripetal) forces acting against tyres and wheels. These same forces (albeit much less in N) which are acting upon a bicycle as well.

When lateral force becomes greater than vertical force…(it is usually the front) wheel that loses traction. (Coefficient of Friction)  This occurrence is referred to as washing out or a low side. The bicycle is a rolling physics lab, it is an amazing piece of machinery. Efficient and relatively simple, yet the complexity of applied forces in action are amazing.

The second part of the video explains the action of the front fork suspension on a motorcycle, which is the exact same dynamic action as a mountain bike/cross bike fork. And btw… I know ‘Air’ is the hot ticket right now in mtb suspensions, but the best forks and machines in the world (GP/SBK) are utilizing oil and springs, so that should tell you something.

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Trailing it Off…

Welcome to the next article in the BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) series

Dem’s da brakes chum

The rear brake on road bikes are a bit mis-understood in my opinion.
The following basic information will hopefully clear up some of the misconceptions and misinformation that has added to the confusion on an already intricate topic. Therefore, this article will try to dispel some of the long-standing advice and narratives that have been published on the subject.

Let me state that I am not saying the front brake is not the better choice most times, or am I denying the fact that the front brake is the most powerful and effective brake to use- when riding in a relatively straight line. But when cornering or on less than dry roads, rear braking when used properly can and will assist in slowing and stabilizing a bicycle as vertical force decreases and lateral force increases… More about that below.

Typically, I’m on and off the rear brake gently and smoothly when cornering because I’m not really using it to stop the bike, but rather to ‘scrub-off’ a slight amount of speed. If I find that I might have carried too much speed into a turn, then this technique will slow the the bike just a bit, to provide more stability rather than utilizing just the front brake when leaned over.

Without getting too technical, eventually the lateral forces or lateral load on the front tire under (front) braking could be exceeded before the load is exceeded on the rear tire. Which is why 9 times out of 10, the front wheel ‘washes’ or slides out before the rear tire does in a crash. (or resulting in a crash)

This holds especially true on anything but dry, debris free pavement and off-camber corners that can be tricky and catch riders out who insist on using the front brake only.

Move to the rear please…

The technique of braking into a corner is often referred to as ‘trailing-off’ or more appropriately, decreasing the initial lever pressure as a rider rolls from corner entry to the apex of a turn. And it is at that point a rider wants to be off the brakes entirely. Sounds easy enough in theory, right? Well sure, almost everything does! Though effective implementation can be slightly complicated or frustrating because it comes down to rider ‘feel’ which is developed and fine-tuned over time. The key to developing a good ‘feel’ is
to simply practice.

Get a grip…

The key contributor to tire grip is the weight or load applied on each tire. The ratio of grip and vertical load is called the co-efficient of friction (AKA- traction) this normally increases/decreases relative to the vertical load (or vertical stiffness) on the tires. And so within these parameters of physics, there are certain aspects which we cannot control- I.E. external forces.

But the factors we do have control over include: tire pressure, tire width and applied braking force. All of which are ‘adjustable’ and can aid in a riders performance and a bikes stability when cornering. As an example, I utilize the rear brake much more than the front, not because I think I will go ‘head over heels’ by using the front brake alone, but because more of my body weight (or CoM) is placed over the rear wheel than the front. (this is true for every rider)

Which means that there is more applied ‘vertical load’ on the rear tire than the front tire, providing more friction or available traction for the bike and rider.

Simply put, traction increases as vertical load on the tire increases, but it is important to know that the relationship between vertical load and traction is not linear. (The laws of physics are not open to interpretation!) Once lateral load exceeds vertical load…traction is then reduced and-or broken.

Please hold, transferring now…

Although a road bicycle has no real suspension to speak of (yet) there is still some slight weight transfer under braking. The more weight that transfers from rear to front, the greater load change on the tires contact patch, which directly relates to the coefficient of friction or available traction. Add in to the mix that a higher center of mass (gravity) will also help to transfer even more weight forward.

(This is why abnormally high seat posts are actually a detriment to performance and handling, though there is virtually no discussion about it) The lower the CoM, the less weight that will be transferred, resulting in a more stable machine.

So with that all said, there is still a definitive line between utilizing rear braking efficiently and locking up the rear wheel and tire. And it is for this reason that most riders then do not utilize the rear brake. That and the at-times myth of the rear wheel coming off the ground on anything but extremely hard braking. (think emergency type stopping)

But, by not using rear braking techniques a rider is forgoing the potential for increased braking power/force and stability WHEN the technique is executed properly. To begin using your rear brake more, start by using both brakes until you can ween yourself off of the front brake as your only choice or the most often used brake.

Slippery when wet…

If this all sounds like nonsense or something you don’t want or think you don’t need to do, then consider that one of the best reasons to start using the rear brake is in wet, rainy or slippery surface conditions. As referenced prior, a bike/rider has more vertical load on the rear tire which will provide more traction (to a point) and so in less than normal dry surface conditions, the potential of losing adhesion on the front tire increases.

Adapting to the given road conditions is critical for safe, efficient riding. If it’s not wet roads, perhaps it will be dirt or gravel roads. This is where a gentle touch on the rear brake helps slow the bike and gives a rider a more control. Better to slightly lock-up the rear, as compared to locking the front tire, which will usually result in a fall/crash.

So my question is; how good a rider would you want to be? How safe, how efficient? Do you want to become more proficient on the road in all conditions? Of course you do, because it’s NOT about going fast. It’s about being in Control, riding safely and having the confidence to do so.

I challenge you sir…or madame

Can you step up your game? I believe you can. I say you have the ability to become better or start using rear braking, trailing-off brake pressure into a corner and executing avoidance maneuvers when and if needed. If you improve these braking/control skills, I guarantee the next time it may start to rain or you encounter an abnormal road surfaces on your ride, you will not only possess the know-how but the confidence to ride without a lot of unnecessary worry and undo hesitation.

By continuing to learn and teach ourselves new techniques, we can improve or lessen the inevitable loss of our skill-set as we age. Think of it as another tool in the toolbox!

The only way to gain confidence is through control. So to this end, we should each practice to attain the necessary feel to learn how to manipulate the rear brake just short of lockup. Not stabbing and grabbing the brakes, but squeezing smoothly AND progressively. Practice today, practice tomorrow, practice on your next ride. But practice!

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It is 3 key elements my dear Watson…

The BST© (Brake Steer Turn) series presents another rider training article

While turning is certainly not a secret, I do believe this piece is something worth reiterating again and again- because again and again…we sometimes see our fellow riders not completely understanding and/or executing a basic turn in a safe and efficient manner. Being on the correct or proper line- at any speed is first and foremost critical to safety.

What I’m referring to is, a basic constant-radius corner. A basic turn is made up of three parts; the entrance, the apex and the exit. Of course there are other various types of simple or complex corners and/or turns; These include double or triple apex corners, decreasing or increasing radius types, chicanes, esses, hairpins, etc. But this article will center primarily on the simple (design) of a basic 90° corner. The main focus will be on the ‘mechanics’ of the basic corner, how to execute the fundamentals of corner entry and exit, but not so much on the intricacies of cornering techniques.

note that this diagram is referring to a single lane and not the entire roadway

Point of Entry

Starting with the approaching entrance of a corner, which is always the first part of any corner, a rider will and should go through the following progressions: 1. Initial braking application, 2. braking release point, and then, 3. the TIP- (Turn In Point).  As a rider approaches the entrance, they should only be thinking about these first three tasks above. Not about where they are going or where their corner exit is… (yet) Keep in mind that the window or frame of time in which all of these things are happening will be in fractions of a second.

Once a rider has ‘hit’ the corner entrance mark, then the focus should immediately be on the apex of the corner. Now depending on speed, lean angle and external surface conditions, it may be possible to adjust the bikes line mid-corner, if indeed the rider finds themselves ‘off’ the most effective line. Now this could be a tricky maneuver depending on speed and conditions. Though a short gentle pull or a slight dragging of the the brakes (preferably the rear brake) mid-corner will usually be safe to do, in order to get the bike back on its ‘proper’ line. Of course lean angle is a significant consideration, which will typically be determined by rider/machine speed. Remember, radius determines speed. (as does the coefficient of friction- also known as traction…)

What the above phrase means is, the given curb-to-curb radii of a roadway corner will accommodate varying speeds- according to how ‘tight’ or ‘open’ a corner is. Wide sweeping corners will usually allow a rider to enter fast and stay fast through the entire turn. Not so with a hairpin or decreasing radii corner. It should be noted that if a rider is needing to significantly brake mid-corner, then entry speed was likely too high or the TIP was markedly off. If the rider hits the apex fairly correctly, then the next step is to focus on corner exit.

Exit (stage left?)

Arguably, corner exit is perhaps the most critical part or section of the corner. Screw up the entrance or be too wide of the apex…and a rider will always, always be on the incorrect line for a ‘proper’ exit. If the rider made the entrance and apex reasonably well, then the exit pretty much takes care of itself- though the rider must still be very mindful of any variable or change in road condition(s) and obstacle(s). “It all begins with Vision”

This segmented approach to a turn, where a rider divides a corner into very small portions or segments, enables the rider to work through the ‘mechanics’ of a turn, task by task. What this does, is essentially allow the brain to focus on fewer decisions per millisecond.

Key Elements

A primary factor is to always try and remain relaxed on the machine. Remember that once a bicycle is in motion, the gyroscopic effect of the wheels help to keep the bike stable. The rake and trail of the steering geometry (which are fixed by the fork type and its offset) will  assist in keeping the bike stable and going straight, even after the front wheel may be deflected by a bump or irregularity on the road.

This is because of the self-centering aspect of the tire’s contact patch is positioned behind the steering axis. Though, when a beginner or nervous rider ‘clamps’ down (the ‘ol death grip) on the bars, it tends to provide unwanted input that may interfere with the bike’s ability to straighten itself out. So keeping the upper body relaxed and fluid will be a help rather than a hindrance in cornering.

One Vision ( one real decision…)

It’s always best to get your body and vision set up for the corner early, before the entrance. Then a rider needs to begin to initiate counter-steering, along with shifting the body position by slightly pivoting the shoulders and hips towards the bend of the turn. As Counter-steering, along with body pivoting, will allow the bike to ‘tip’ into the corner without much force applied. It should feel natural and easy. Not hurried or panicked.

Hurrying or rushing the corner will usually result in a rider running wide towards the middle and wide of the exit of a turn. The faster one rides, the trickery entry speed determination becomes. This is where VISION, or Forward Vision is the most critical.
Keeping the eyes far ahead towards the exit of a turn at ALL times is a core, key factor. Finding the optimal entry/corner speed takes practice, a lot of practice. These are some of the fundamentals of cycling that are often overlooked or just skimmed over. But as easy or basic as this may seem, it is a core skill-set that needs constant reinforcing. Especially as riders age and spatial judgment and visual perception slowly degenerate.


There seems to be a constant ongoing debate (though it is moot) about whether counter-steering or ‘body’ steering is the most effective way to steer a bicycle (or a motobike for matter). There are those who think it has to be one or the other or, that counter-steering isn’t necessary at all! But in reality those who believe that notion are missing a key point. Which is, utilizing the upper and lower body together is by far the most effective and efficient way to steer a two-wheeled, inline, single track vehicle. Initial steering input should always begin with light counter-steering (a slight pushing-forward on the inside bar- which utilizes the front wheel’s gyroscopic effect, essentially permits the bike to ‘fall’ into the corner)

In summary, as the rider enters the corner, the focus quickly shifts to the apex and then the exit- all of which happens in milliseconds.  Being prepared early and staying aware will allow a rider to re-position themselves if necessary in order to be on the ‘proper’ line when cornering. Approaching these tasks methodically and accordingly may improve a riders ability to corner BOTH safely and efficiently. Now get out there and practice folks!

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