How to corner like a cheetah, buy a quality MTB, and splash the cash even if you’re on a budget.
You’ll feel more secure steering through sharp turns if you keep your centre of gravity low. That means using the drops (the lowest part of the handlebars on a road bike); or on a flat- barred bike, simply bending your elbows and dipping your torso a bit.
Since you’re cornering with your whole body, you need to keep your hips, feet, hands and torso free to move. So you have to keep loose! If you tense up your arms will straighten and you’ll end up fighting your bike through the turn. As you approach a turn, consciously relax your hands and arms, so you have a firm – but not white- knuckle- tight – grip on the bars, and your upper body feels loose. Your elbows should be bent.
Feather Your Brakes
Hitting the brakes causes your bike to straighten out. That’s not the position you want to be in going into a turn. You want to get most (if not all) of your braking out of the way before you corner, so you can coast through the turn. To do this, feather your brakes as you approach the turn. If your weight shifts forward, you’re squeezing too hard. Let go once you’re in the turn, and only feather again if you need to adjust.
Press Into Your Pedal
For sharp turns, you want to keep your wheels planted firmly on the ground (and avoid skidding) by weighing your wheels. Extend your outside leg and push very heavily into the pedal, as you lightly press down on the handlebar with your inside hand. This will help you maintain traction as you sweep through the curve.
Look Where You Want To Go
Your bike follows your eyes, like your body follows your eyes. So, look through the corner to where you want to go. Pay attention to what some pros call the ‘ third eye’ ( your navel). That too should be ‘ looking’ (pointed) in the direction you want to go, as it ensures your hips and torso are carrying you through the turn. Always remember that you’re steering with your whole body. So point your eyes, chin and shoulders in the direction you want to go, and the rest will follow. First, don’t underestimate the importance of a quality helmet. In a sport where crashes are inevitable, it’s important to ensure that your head is protected by the best helmet possible. The second thing about your headgear – particularly during warmer days – is to splurge on a lighter helmet. It’ll be more comfortable, because not only is there less weight on your head, it will also typically offer better ventilation than cheaper alternatives. Another thing you want to splash the cash on is properly fitted cycling shoes. Saving a grand on a pair of hand- me- downs that squeeze your big toe won’t only be uncomfortable; it could cause you nerve damage, in the long run. There is also the prospect of hot foot, another product of shoes being too tight. Also as you get fitter you’ll spend more time on the bike, and it’s no fun pushing pedals for hours while your feel feel like they’re boiling in oil. Proper chamois is another big deal. Cheaper ones may offer some padding, but won’t last as long, and often don’t offer the same kind of moisture wicking abilities more expensive ones do. Low- quality chamois can lead to saddle sores, and the more comfortable your are in the saddle, the more likely you are to keep riding your bike.
I’M ON A TIGHT BUDGET, BUT I KNOW I CAN’T GO CHEAP ON EVERYTHING – WHAT SHOULD I DEFINITELY BREAK THE BANK ON?