Dirt bikes are gaining popularity of late. The thrills and danger they bring with each and every ride is almost too intoxicating for many people. With protective gear being made specifically for them and increasingly optimized systems in place to improve their performance, dirt bikes are quickly spreading amongst the masses as a fun and enjoyable hobby.
However, it still takes a lot of skill and training to properly control a dirt bike. Because of their almost negligible weight, they are very difficult to control. The difficulty is only amplified when you try to corner your dirt bike. Cornering is especially hard because you need to shift your weight to make the bike turn the way you want it to. If you don’t shift you weight, the inertia will make it almost impossible for you to turn and you’ll be lying in the dirt flat on your face.
By following some basic steps and training with them you can learn how to corner your dirt bike efficiently. To train yourself for it, you first need to be aware of the kinds of cornering you can do with your dirt bike, and also the techniques and methods you should employ for a clear and easy cornering.
If you’re at a loss wondering how you are supposed to do it, we have got you covered. Let’s take a look at the kinds of cornering techniques you can employ and the techniques you need to employ for an effective cornering procedure.
Types of Cornering
There are a number of methods you can use to corner your dirt bike. Each kind of cornering technique happens to be effective in a special kind of situation while dirt bike riding. Here are the kinds of cornering methods that you need to know of:
Perhaps the most popular way of cornering a dirt bike, certainly one of the most widely seen, this method has the rider doing exactly as the name suggests. They have to stand up. Stand-up cornering involves taking your weight off the bike and floating above the seat while you maneuver the bike around. A stand-up cornering is one of the easiest and effective ways of cornering a dirt bike. All you need to do is balance yourself with your body in the air, and your hands on the handlebars, and you are good to go.
Fast, Sweeping Corners
Probably one of the more dangerous kinds of cornering methods, the fast, sweeping corners has you bending down at speed to corner your dirt bike. It’s the kind of cornering you normally see at a Moto GP event where the riders bend their bikes down at speed until it looks like they’re sweeping the track with it. The fast, sweeping corners are highly useful in a race where you have to keep riding fast. However, they are also dangerous since they can easily make your dirt bike lose balance and have both it and you plummet into the ground. Therefore, practice extensively before you try this move.
A flat corner may seem to be an easy ordeal. However, without the correct technique and a thorough understanding of your vehicle, you may end up losing control of your bike. The trick to it is leaning your bike while keeping your balance intact. To do so, experts suggest keeping your outer pedal down while you corner your bike around the turn. Doing this keeps your center of gravity constant and allows you to balance yourself as you lean the bike. So make sure to follow that whenever you attempt a flat corner.
Sit-Down Cornering (Motocross Style)
Cornering your dirt bike while sitting down seems like a tough proposition. However, it is an essential one for corners that are tighter than 90 degrees. For motocross style dirt biking, the bikes are obviously lighter. This makes it more necessary for you to hold them and keep them in your control while cornering. Use your knees to hold the bike and point your feet forward instead of outwards to make sure that no gap exists between your legs and the bike. The better hold you have of the bike, the better you can corner while sitting down.
Sit-Down Cornering (Enduro Style)
Enduro bikes are by default heavier than the ones used in Motocross. This means that they are harder to maneuver while cornering. In sit-down cornering, Enduro style, you need to apply more force to make sure that the heavier bike turns the way you want it to turn. The method of doing that involves the use of your feet. Plant the foot leaning into the corner into the ground and use it to provide a pivot for your dirt bike. You have to lean in with your foot and not plant it from the front since that could cause your ankle to twist.
Sometimes you don’t know what’s coming ahead or how the track will treat you as you turn. Maybe the corner is so steep you don’t know where to maneuver once you have completed it. In such cases, going slow is the best solution you have. Slow corners allow you to decrease your speed to a controllable amount as you are cornering. No matter what you see after you have cornered, you have the time to maneuver your bike and make sure you stay safe. Slow cornering is something that can save your life.
Sharp corners can be quite tough. If you’re going at speed and you have to turn sharply, you can get in two minds about what to do. Braking is of course an option, but in a race or a competition it could cost you dearly. Instead, what you can do is take your foot off the throttle and stop the acceleration of the bike. Turn it with the speed you were going at and once you find the stretch of track you feel you can accelerate on, hit the throttle once again. If you happen to be riding slow, just take it easy and brake a bit before turning, and keep your foot on the brake.
Rutted corners can be a rider’s worst nightmare. No one likes the sight of uneven and catastrophic track corners. However, with the right technique, you can conquer them easily by practicing. The thing you need to take care of happens to be your position and your control. Brake before you hit the rut and maneuver the clutch and throttle steadily as you corner the rut. You need to keep your body position steady, with your head needing to be above the gas tank at all times.
Sometimes you’ll find bends coming one after another and you’ll have to maneuver them all in one go. Obviously, all the corners will not be of the same kind and you’ll have to employ different cornering methods to get past them. The term normally used in such cases is called corner combination. You’ll need to combine all your knowledge of cornering and use it at once. To do so efficiently, you will need to focus on the track ahead of you, strain your eyes to see what kind of corner is coming up, and adjust your position and your bike accordingly to corner the bend. This needs to be done the entire time and can end up being quite strenuous.
Often you can’t just ride the bike the way it is naturally moving. You will need to maneuver it against its natural path and force it to move towards the way you want it to. For example, down a hill the dirt bike may be going straight, but you will need to turn it left to go on your trail. Such cornering is usually called off-camber. The technique to do this is to be high on your bike and keep it firmly in your grasp. Turn the way you want to without forcing the bike too hard. Just easily maneuver the bike and maneuver your body with it.
Some corners actually speed you up rather than slowing you down. They usually are encased entirely in an outer edge that allows you to accelerate as you ride along it. Such corners are typically called berms. Berms, as mentioned, speed you up. Thus, you need to maneuver yourself in a way that helps you gain the speed instead of you fighting the speed. The trick to this is leaning harder and letting you speed through the berm. Moreover, you do not want to avoid the berm. The speed it gives you goes a long way during a race, so ride into the berm instead of avoiding it.
The Best Tips on Cornering
Now that you know all the different kinds of cornering there are and how to do them, let’s have a look at some tips that can help you along the way. Practicing while keeping the following tips in mind allows you to gain mastery over cornering.
Keep Arms and Head Up
You don’t want to be putting more pressure on the front end of your bike and possibly unbalancing it. Keep your arms and head up and put your weight in the middle of the bike to keep it perfectly balanced.
The best trick to cornering has to be staying consistent. While maneuvering your dirt bike, you can’t change your position since that may cause the bike to lose balance. Stay consistent in your position at all times.
Grip the Bike with Your Knees
You must have a hold of your bike at all times and it should be under your control directly. Grip it with your knees at all times so that it becomes a part of you. Make sure no space is left between the bike and your knees.
You can’t corner with your foot being on the accelerator. Slow down before each corner so that you can judge how to maneuver your bike and then maneuver it without issues while cornering.
Balance Your Weight
Often, while cornering, you will either need to lean or bend your body in order to maneuver the bike. However, you need to keep balance. Leaning or bending too much can cause the bike to fall.
Throttle and Brakes
Use your throttle and your brakes as much as you can. The efficient use of them both simultaneously allows you to speed up or slow down as the corner demands.
Leaning into Corners
Practice leaning on your bike as much as you can. Leaning into a corner is one of the most important things when it comes to cornering.
Use dirt bike training videos and training manuals from wherever you can get them to learn how to execute a cornering move.