Move up a gear

Change the way you think about cor­ners

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Michael Neeves MCN Se­nior Road Tester

We road rid­ers are taught to brake early on an ap­proach to a cor­ner, then power through. Go­ing in steadily gives you the wig­gle room to slow down, swerve, or even stop, if some­thing un­ex­pected hap­pens.

Things are dif­fer­ent on a race­track where you know gen­er­ally that each time you go through a bend, it’s go­ing to look and feel the same lap af­ter lap and you don’t have to ride with such a time-sap­ping safety net.

In­stead, you can adopt an op­po­site ap­proach: carry enough speed into the cor­ner so you can glide through on mo­men­tum with a closed throt­tle.

This tech­nique will let you lap faster and safer. It’s what rac­ers and very fast track­day rid­ers do nat­u­rally and taught by for­mer 500cc GP rid­ers such as Si­mon Cra­far and Ron Haslam at their race schools.

Run­ning through on a closed throt­tle has sev­eral ben­e­fits: there’s more weight over the front wheel, so more front tyre grip. With the forks sit­ting lower in their stroke (than if you were on the throt­tle) the steer­ing an­gle is steeper, mak­ing your bike eas­ier to turn. And with the rear end high, there’s more ground-clear­ance, too.

Pow­er­ing through a cor­ner, road­style, will see you lean­ing your bike over to the edge of the tyre as you ac­cel­er­ate. You’re ac­tu­ally ask­ing for more power as the grip re­duces, which is bonkers, if you think about it. Off-throt­tle cor­ner­ing is safer be­cause you are not us­ing the throt­tle as you lean the bike over.

The good news is it doesn’t take a big leap of faith, brav­ery or large co­jones to per­fect the off-throt­tle cor­ner­ing method.

Brake for a cor­ner when you would nor­mally, but the trick is not to hang on to that front brake lever for too long. Lap by lap, gen­tly ease the brake off ear­lier and ear­lier and make it your mis­sion not to touch the throt­tle un­til you’re just past the apex.

Most pure bred road rid­ers won’t have the mo­men­tum to get to the apex with­out hav­ing to ac­cel­er­ate up to it at first, but the sooner you can let go of the brake, the eas­ier it be­comes. With prac­tice you’ll get used to your new cor­ner en­try speed and end up nat­u­rally brak­ing later and go­ing in even faster. Get the hang of off-throt­tle cor­ner and it’s a oneway ticket to the fast group.

It’s a track-only trick yet sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive

Thun­der­sport GP1 Elite racer and Ron Haslam Race School Elite in­struc­tor

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