WRR50: Cornering on a Motorcycle

One of the primary differences between driving and riding is how you navigate corners. While that might sound obvious, the actual physics behind how a bike corners are important to know.

We know that motorcycles change direction by leaning over onto the smaller circumference of the side of the tire, allowing you to track around that corner using steering and throttle inputs. But how do you get into that lean in the first place? Counter-steering. If you have taken the MSF or been riding motorcycles for a while you should be familiar with that term, but if you aren’t – don’t worry, you are already doing it whether you realize it or not. Counter-steering is basically turning the bars in the opposite direction that you want to go. Turn the bars to the left while at speed, and the bike will lean to the right and actually turn right. This “backwards” way of steering is very confusing to some people, in fact I’ve met riders who just flat out don’t believe it even though they’ve been riding for years.

A simple experiment you can do next time you are out riding: simply push on one side of the bars and notice that your bike turns in that direction. There you have it – simple as that.

Obviously there is a lot more at play than just how you actually steer. The MSF recommends a very good sequence to get in the habit of using around every corner: Slow, Look, Press, Lean, and Roll. As you ride, you need to analyze each corner as you approach. How tight is the corner, how clean is the pavement, can you see all the way through the turn or is the corner exit blocked by trees or mountainside? Before you reach the corner, you should have your corner entry speed set, and the proper gear selected. Another good mantra is “Slow in, Fast out.” You can always accelerate out of the corner, but come in too hot and you could find yourself in a tricky situation.

The next rule is LOOK through the corner. Always look where you want to go. Use your peripheral vision to continue to sweep the road immediately in front of you for debris or gravel, but your focus should be on the corner exit – or as far through the turn as you can see. Experiment with this. Try turning your head extra far, really exaggerate – you might be surprised at how your bike naturally tightens up the corner. This is a CRITICAL skill to develop – so don’t take it lightly.

PRESS. As we already mentioned, this is how bikes actually initiate the lean and “turn in.” Press on the bar in the direction you want to go. Press left, go left, press right, go right. You can also pull on the opposite grip to apply even pressure – most people do this without even thinking about it – but it’s still good to know what is going on. photo corner1.jpg

LEAN. This doesn’t need much explanation – but once you are in the turn you will use bar and throttle inputs to maintain your lean angle around the corner. Some corners tighten up, some open up, and sometimes you’ll find a surprise mid-corner. If this happens, just remember to LOOK where you want to go – NEVER look at what you want to avoid. Instead, look for your escape route or your best line. Likewise, never, ever look at the side of the road because you WILL run off it. I’ve seen many riders hit a guardrail because it scared them and they looked at it (and subsequently, rode right into it). photo corner2.jpg

ROLL. This is the FUN part. Use your throttle to accelerate through the corner. Remember most bikes have larger rear tires than front, and more grip is available at the rear. Rolling on the throttle transfers weight to the larger rear tire, stabilizes the suspension, and helps you keep your line. On many bikes it’s easy to over do it, so use that throttle judiciously – and feed more in as you are able to stand the bike up upon corner exit.  photo corner4.jpg

So that’s it! Those are the basics of getting around a corner on a motorcycle. Granted, that’s a very basic explanation. There are many more things at play such as your body position and more advanced techniques to learn such as trail braking or needing to shift mid corner. Follow the above until you are very comfortable taking corner after corner, and keep studying and practicing. Above all, have fun! Cornering on a motorcycle is one of the best feelings in the world! photo corner3.jpg

The New Vega X380, a Vintage Styled Open Face Helmet

That retro open face style seems to be coming back in style and Vega has a new helmet that fits the mold. So if you’re looking for a vintage lid, check out the Vega X380 Helmet in either black, white with a blue stripe or with cool sticker graphics and see which fits your personality best.

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The Fly Racing 9MM Half Helmets Offer A German WWII Style


The traditional German WWII design has always been popular and Fly Racing has a created that cool, low profile look in their new shorty motorcycle helmet. Constructed of a tough thermoplastic poly alloy shell with a dual density EPS liner, the Fly Racing 9MM Half Helmet is DOT approved and will suit those of you prefer to wear the least amount of helmet allowed by law. With a removable, washable Coolmax® lining that will keep you cool on those warmer rides, this WWII helmet is simple but enough to keep your brain safe if needed.

Affordable, Low-Profile Half Helmets – the AFX FX-200

AFX offers up a variety of helmets but if you’re looking for a shorty check this one out. The streamlined, aerodynamic styling of the AFX FX-200 Half Helmets will give you the protection you need, but also provide you with as little lid as possible, if you don’t want to be too confined. Constructed of a fiberglass, reinforced plastic shell with a hypoallergenic/antimicrobial nylon liner and adjustable D-ring straps, with the option of having a two drop down visors hidden within, this DOT approved shorty helmet is worth taking a look at.

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Retro Styled – the Bell Custom 500 Helmets

Cool colors, a retro design and old school graphics are what go into this DOT approved 1950’s rendition of an open face helmet. The Bell Custom 500 Helmet is tough enough to protect you in a spill, but cool enough to wear while riding down the highway.

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