Move up a gear
Change the way you think about corners
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