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  1. #1
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    Taking corners quickly and tire sizes: questions

    Hi, I'm a bicycle newbie, and wanting to get some advice from the seasoned vets. For various reasons, I frequently need to take a corner quickly, which involves leaning to the side to not crash (I've wiped out a couple times on gravel, that was no fun). My question is, for more lean and quicker, sharper curves, which is better: knobby tread on a 2" wheel, or knobby tread on a 700cc wheel? I always just assumed 2" tires would corner better since they have more traction, but now I've started to wonder if my assumptins were wrong all along.

    Thanks much!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Pro level handling skills and they go down mountains on 1 inch wide tires.

    knobbys only on the dirt..

    sticky tread compounds are low milage wearing.. so there is that trade off..

  3. #3
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosbike01 View Post
    Which is better: knobby tread on a 2" wheel, or knobby tread on a 700cc wheel?
    You're not comparing the same thing- 2" is a tyre width, 700C is a nominal wheel diameter. Tyres for 700C wheels come in a range of sizes, just as they do for 26" wheels (or any other diameter.)
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  4. #4
    Goodbye Leeroy Jenkins tagaproject6's Avatar
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    Taking corners with knobby tires on what type of surface?
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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Contact patch is what's important. If you're on the road, then the smoothest tire for a given size will have the best traction.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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    Taking fast corners on a gravel surface? You might try praying a lot.
    Quick turns on gravel is like riding on ball bearings. I don't think any tread design is good for that.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    They use steel sole shoes as a ski, on the inside leg, foot down,
    cornering fast on Dirt races on tracks on Motorbikes ..

    the boot becomes a ski

    and as an indirect thing ..

    at least the leg is not trapped under the bike ,
    when the traction goes.

    Speedway MC, i dont think even have a peg on the left side.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-24-12 at 04:59 PM.

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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    They use steel sole shoes as a ski, on the inside leg, foot down,
    cornering fast on Dirt races on tracks on Motorbikes ..
    at least the leg is not trapped under the bike , when the traction goes.
    Raced flat track for years. Keeping the foot from getting trapped under the bike has nothing to do with why we wear steel shoes.

    To the OP, on pavement, slicks always have more traction than knobbies.

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    Sorry, my OP was unintentionally unclear (grin). I ride 90% of the time on pavement. But there's times where a bike trail will have gravel on it, or I'm forced to go up on a narrow sidewalk or have to swerve into dirt. I always just assumed that knobby treads were the better choice. But now you guys are saying slicks give more traction? Wow. I've been riding ignorant then.

    My other question is, do narrow or wide tires corner better?

    Thanks again, really happy to hear your advice!

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    How about you slow down instead? A 1/2 mi stretch of my commute is perpetually covered in leaves and nuts, it slows me down a lot. Leaves, nuts, and gravel lubricate the surface and that stuff is especially bad when wet. Wet leaves are downright dangerous even if they're not hiding a big hole underneath.

  11. #11
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosbike01 View Post
    Hi, I'm a bicycle newbie, and wanting to get some advice from the seasoned vets. For various reasons, I frequently need to take a corner quickly, which involves leaning to the side to not crash (I've wiped out a couple times on gravel, that was no fun). My question is, for more lean and quicker, sharper curves, which is better: knobby tread on a 2" wheel, or knobby tread on a 700cc wheel? I always just assumed 2" tires would corner better since they have more traction, but now I've started to wonder if my assumptins were wrong all along.

    Thanks much!
    Unless there is a stop sign/light there is no reason not to take a turn 'at speed' and I believe it is just basic physics that a bycycle leans into a turn. If your frequently taking evasive action to avoid being hit by a car slow down and pay attention to what is going one and follow the rules of the road.

    Knobbies + highspeed + fast sudden turns = crash or at the very least poor handling. If your riding a mountain style bike on the road get some slick tires.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

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  12. #12
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    Knobbies + highspeed + fast sudden turns = crash or at the very least poor handling. If your riding a mountain style bike on the road get some slick tires.
    Knobbies and high speed turns don't necessarily mean a crash nor poor handling. And you should only get slicks on a mountain bike if you are riding primarily on the road. Better yet, get a road bike or a hybrid and ride the mountain bike on the dirt...and whatever road you need to ride to connect between dirt patches.

    Quote Originally Posted by cosbike01 View Post
    Sorry, my OP was unintentionally unclear (grin). I ride 90% of the time on pavement. But there's times where a bike trail will have gravel on it, or I'm forced to go up on a narrow sidewalk or have to swerve into dirt. I always just assumed that knobby treads were the better choice. But now you guys are saying slicks give more traction? Wow. I've been riding ignorant then.

    My other question is, do narrow or wide tires corner better?

    Thanks again, really happy to hear your advice!
    Now let's get into the meat of cornering. Having said what I did above, knobbies can be difficult on hard surfaces. The issue is that an individual knob will bend as the bike goes around the corner. This allows the knob to hang on too long and suddenly break free causing the tire to slide sideways. The tires will repeat this across the knob pattern until you run out of knobs. It's called 'walking' of the knob.

    Most people haven't developed the skills necessary to handle this kind of situation and probably will crash when you get to the end of the knobs. I'll go further and say that most people don't have the skills necessary to handle any kind of sideways slide of the rear tire and only a very, very, very few are going to be able to handle a sideways slide of the front tire. Mountain biking on dirt goes a long ways towards learning how to handle a bike in all kinds of situations.

    There are too many factors to say that a wide or narrow tire corners better. The road surface, debris, water, ice, sand, lean angle, pedal loading, etc all contribute to whether or not a tire is going to get you around a corner. Tire width is way down the list and almost unimportant. Knobs give better traction in some situations...dirt and snow...while slicks give better traction in others. Most people choose slick tires for efficiency rather than because of traction issues.

    Cornering technique plays as large a role as does the type of tires you use. Bikes don't turn corners like a car does. A bike banks a corner like a plane does (the Wright brothers were cyclists first). Because you bank the corner, you need to treat it a little differently. A bike is also a lightweight vehicle with a high center of gravity which is just about the middle of your chest which also means that you treat it differently from a heavier motorcycle. First, as you enter a corner, you need to push down hard on the outside pedal and the outside handle bar. This puts the most pressure on the inner edge of the tire and keeps it pressed down into the surface.

    Next you want to lean into the corner but you can't lean over at the exaggerated angle that motorcyclists can. You don't have a huge weight...aka the engine...keeping the center of gravity low. You'll find that you can lean the bike way over but you have to keep your body more perpendicular. Pressing on the outside pedal helps. Scooting back on the saddle puts more weight on the rear wheel and keeps it from sliding out from under you.

    The very best thing you can do for learning how to handle a bike is to use your mountain bike like it was intended. Ride it off-road. First it's fun. Next it will teach you more about how to handle the bike in an hour than you'll learn in years of road biking.
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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    which also means that you treat it differently from a heavier motorcycle. First, as you enter a corner, you need to push down hard on the outside pedal and the outside handle bar. This puts the most pressure on the inner edge of the tire and keeps it pressed down into the surface.
    That's pretty much how you do on a motorcycle too, when you are cornering in anger.

  14. #14
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    How about you slow down instead? A 1/2 mi stretch of my commute is perpetually covered in leaves and nuts, it slows me down a lot. Leaves, nuts, and gravel lubricate the surface and that stuff is especially bad when wet. Wet leaves are downright dangerous even if they're not hiding a big hole underneath.

    Agreed. I was on a group ride where a man died because he tried to take a corner to quickly. He could have easily passed the turn and circled back to get on the ride route but he chose to make the turn at a high rate of speed. He did not make the turn, crossed through a parking lot, hit some kind of obstruction and flipped over his handlebars, crushing his skull. He was wearing a helmet.

    There is no need to take corners "quickly" for any average cyclist and especially a newbie cyclist. Racers will take corners at a high rate of speed but sometimes they pay the price too.
    Last edited by spinnaker; 09-22-12 at 07:50 PM.
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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post

    There is no need to take corners "quickly" for any average cyclist and especially a newbie cyclist. Racers will take corners at a high rate of speed but sometimes they pay the price too.
    Cornering quickly may not be necessary, but it sure does feel good. Also the skills to corner quickly are similar to the skills needed to swerve to avoid something, so it serves us well to practice em.

  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    There is no need to take corners "quickly" for any average cyclist and especially a newbie cyclist. Racers will take corners at a high rate of speed but sometimes they pay the price too.
    How not quickly do your think someone should corner? 5 mph? 1 mph? 15 mph? I have roads in my area where I can easily hit 50 mph and it's not straight. Do you suggest that we all slow down to 5 mph to go around every corner on this road? I agree that there are times to be prudent about speed and cornering. But you don't need to corner slowly all the time

    I don't buy your story that the guy crashed because he was cornering too fast. It sounds to me like he was doing something else thing wrong if he had enough speed to cross a parking lot and hit an obstruction and flip over his handlebars and crush his skull. Was he going 80 mph? His brakes weren't working? He fell asleep? Reading War and Peace? You make it sound like he traveled a good long distance before meeting his untimely end with plenty of time to do something.
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  17. #17
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    How not quickly do your think someone should corner? 5 mph? 1 mph? 15 mph? I have roads in my area where I can easily hit 50 mph and it's not straight. Do you suggest that we all slow down to 5 mph to go around every corner on this road? I agree that there are times to be prudent about speed and cornering. But you don't need to corner slowly all the time

    Normal bends in a road is not a corner in my book. A T intersection is a corner. Taking intersection corner at 50 MPH is insane. I'm not going to suggest a speed just to say to take the corner at a prudent speed. There is no reason to push the limit.



    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I don't buy your story that the guy crashed because he was cornering too fast. It sounds to me like he was doing something else thing wrong if he had enough speed to cross a parking lot and hit an obstruction and flip over his handlebars and crush his skull. Was he going 80 mph? His brakes weren't working? He fell asleep? Reading War and Peace? You make it sound like he traveled a good long distance before meeting his untimely end with plenty of time to do something.
    You weren't there. I was. Are you suggesting I am lying?

    He tried to take the corner too fast. That was what the ride organizers reported as the cause of the accident.

    It would not be possible for him not to be paying attention. If he did then he would have gone straight and not made the turn.
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  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Normal bends in a road is not a corner in my book. A T intersection is a corner. Taking intersection corner at 50 MPH is insane. I'm not going to suggest a speed just to say to take the corner at a prudent speed. There is no reason to push the limit.
    A bend is still a corner. Your statement was "There is no need to take corners "quickly" for any average cyclist and especially a newbie cyclist." There were no qualifiers so it's not hard to draw the conclusion I drew. The world is full of corners and bends and twists and turns as well as different road surfaces and conditions. Which ones do you suggest that there is no need to take "quickly"?

    Everyone would be better served by knowing at least a little about cornering and how to go around a corner at a high(er) rate of speed so that they can do it if they find themselves in a situation where they are going faster than they normally would. It happens and is far better to know how to handle the situation than not.

    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    You weren't there. I was. Are you suggesting I am lying?

    He tried to take the corner too fast. That was what the ride organizers reported as the cause of the accident.

    It would not be possible for him not to be paying attention. If he did then he would have gone straight and not made the turn.
    Now were you there, as in actually witnessing the event or were you at the event where something happened to someone and the ride organizers reported on what happen? I find it very hard to believe...based on years of fast cornering and high speed riding and the occasional crash...that anyone could miss a corner, cross a parking lot and then hit something with enough force to throw himself to the ground. That's a lot of distance to cover without making any attempt at control. I don't know how he could have passed through a parking space, much less a whole lot, without slowing down.

    I also know from my own experience, that the usual result of a missed turn at a high rate of speed involves a whole lot of bike and rider sliding on the pavement because the bike tends to slide out from under the rider. Being upright and losing control of a bike are usually mutually exclusive.

    On the other hand, if he "missed" the turn but could have gone straight and not made the turn, what was all this business with wondering around the parking lot? If he'd gone straight, wouldn't he have ended up in the same parking lot?

    If you are relying on ride organizers as to the cause of the accident, people make mistakes and report things that just can't be all the time. If you actually witnessed the accident, just how fast was the guy going?
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  19. #19
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I was not more than an hour behind the accident. The ambulance went by me.

    There was an intersection. He tried but couldn't make the turn to the right. He is now dead because he thought he could make it. If someone got in his way, skidding on gravel, oil, lost concentration at the last second or whatever the reason doesn't matter. What he actually hit doesn't matter. He is dead all for a casual ride. Had he slowed before the corner or passed the intersection most likely he would be alive today.

    Had he gone straight he could have simply slowed, he probably had a mile or two of straight road so there was way more than enough road on which to stop safely.

    Those are the facts.

    Too many "Lance wanabees" on a casual ride with people of all ages and abilities is one of the reasons I no longer do that ride.

    I am actually surprised more children have not been hurt on that ride at the speed some riders ride, close passes and the number of pelotons. I guess one advantage of them being fast is they get out in front of the kids. Plus the kids are riding the shorter course could be another reason no one has been hurt by a rider,
    Last edited by spinnaker; 09-23-12 at 07:00 PM.
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  20. #20
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Tire pressure and skill are big factors in cornering.

    For the skill part
    http://www.seanbujold.com/coaching/Cornering.pdf
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  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Those are the facts.
    Sorry but which facts are those. They seem to be shifting.


    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    I was not more than an hour behind the accident. The ambulance went by me.
    So you are going by what someone else told you.

    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    There was an intersection. He tried but couldn't make the turn to the right. He is now dead because he thought he could make it. If someone got in his way, skidding on gravel, oil, lost concentration at the last second or whatever the reason doesn't matter. What he actually hit doesn't matter. He is dead all for a casual ride. Had he slowed before the corner or passed the intersection most likely he would be alive today.

    Had he gone straight he could have simply slowed, he probably had a mile or two of straight road so there was way more than enough road on which to stop safely.
    Stuff happens. People make mistakes. People fall in bath tubs and die. People fall off ladders and die. People crash on bikes and die. People crash in cars and die. People handle venomous snakes and die. The frequency of each one of those events is rather small compared to the number of people climbing ladders, taking baths, riding bicycles or driving a car. (If you are going to handle venomous snakes, you're just asking for it.) Should we all just sit home and hope that nothing happens? Don't take baths or climb ladders if you do so. Whatever you do, don't get in your car!

    There are other alternatives. There's your method of not using ladders, bath tubs and riding your bike at nothing above walking speed. Or you could learn how to use a ladder properly, make the tub less slippery and learn how to control your bike. I put the guy's death down to a mistake and/or a lack of ability. If you make a mistake, do your best to survive it and if you have a limited ability, learn more about how to ride.

    Or just sit at home and wait. Death will find you there too.
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  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    I was thinking more about spinnaker and my dragging of the thread off the topic and, as soon as I clarify something, I'll apologize and get the thread back on track.

    I think spinnaker is misinterpreting the accident in the classic "Eats. Shoots. And leaves." manner. I suspect that the incident report on the accident went something like the rider failed to notice the turn and overshot. He then crossed a parking lot to get back on the course and hit an obstacle in the parking lot where he was thrown from the bike. Basically he did what spinnaker suggested and went straight, slowed down, crossed the parking lot and failed to notice something...likely a curbstone...and crashed. Tragic, yes. But unrelated to the corner or to riding around a corner.

    I'm sorry to have drug this thread off the tracks and would like to get it back on them. cosbike1, if you are still out there, one of the best things you can do to improve your cornering is to look where you are going. Many people think this is obvious but they don't do it. Most people...whether they are in a car or on their bike...look just in front of the vehicle. By which I mean a few feet. Get in the habit of looking further down the road. Think of bicycling as a giant chess game where you are planning your moves 10 moves in advance. Look down the road...I usually look down the road about 200 yards...and see where the corners are coming up. Recognize what gravel looks like and plan your turn accordingly.

    In mountain biking, we have a trick to not look at what we are trying to avoid. If you see a rock in the middle of the trail that you need to go around, you are likely to hit it if you stare right at it. If you look further down the trail and plan your line, you'll more likely avoid the rock because you are aiming at something else. It works in road biking also. However, if you have skills that have been honed on loose surfaces like mountain bike trails, if you do hit a patch of loose stuff, you'll know how to handle it. A mountain bike sliding sideways is just part of the fun.
    Stuart Black
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    Thanks for the tips, Cyccommute. Also, these stories are scaring me just a bit. I'd rather be cautious than end up breaking something. I think I'm still a little confused on the relationship between tire traction and the leaning aspect. I think wiping out on the gravel made me think about the physics all wrong. But thanks to you guys, I've decided to change from commuting on knobbies to investing in a quality pair of road slicks with traction!

  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosbike01 View Post
    Thanks for the tips, Cyccommute. Also, these stories are scaring me just a bit. I'd rather be cautious than end up breaking something. I think I'm still a little confused on the relationship between tire traction and the leaning aspect. I think wiping out on the gravel made me think about the physics all wrong. But thanks to you guys, I've decided to change from commuting on knobbies to investing in a quality pair of road slicks with traction!
    Don't be frightened off by horror stories. Creeping around corners worried about crashing is one way to deal with your fears. Learning handle your bike is another way. Railing a corner at speed is far more fun and, if done properly, nearly as safe as creeping.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  25. #25
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=cyccommute;14767954
    I think spinnaker is misinterpreting the accident in the classic "Eats. Shoots. And leaves." manner. I suspect that the incident report on the accident went something like the rider failed to notice the turn and overshot. He then crossed a parking lot to get back on the course and hit an obstacle in the parking lot where he was thrown from the bike. Basically he did what spinnaker suggested and went straight, slowed down, crossed the parking lot and failed to notice something...likely a curbstone...and crashed. Tragic, yes. But unrelated to the corner or to riding around a corner.

    [/QUOTE]

    You're wrong. That is no where near what happened I saw the intersection and where he landed. Had he gone straight and not tried to make the turn he would have been able to slow and barring any other future accidents or health issues he would be alive today. Why can't you just accept that?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

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