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Bicycle / Body Angle on Flat Corners

Old 12-25-20, 04:24 PM
  #1  
pavement_nyc
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Bicycle / Body Angle on Flat Corners

What is the safest way to corner on a road / commuter bicycle to maintain traction?

Mountain bikers lean the bike more than their body, so their weight pushes more straight down into the ground.



Motorcyclists lean their body more than their bike, to keep the bike more upright and keep the contact patch close to the center.



To maintain traction with slick tires on pavement, should you lean body more than bike? Or bike more than body?
In other words, is it more important to keep the contact patch centered, or keep your body weight pushing more in line with gravity through the contact patch?
Does the contact patch of a bicycle tire get smaller/less grippy as the bike leans into a corner?
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Old 12-25-20, 07:40 PM
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Maelochs
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Different cornering styles, but mostly the riders seem to be leaning with the bike, occasionally with a leg or shoulder leaning inward to get a little extra tightening of the line ... it seems. I know when it is wet I try to lean more and keep the bike more upright ... and when laying the bike over it is sort of a quick dip ... while on most corners, when I am not trying to go fast and risk breaking my collarbones again .... I lean with the bike. But I might be doing it entirely wrong.




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Old 12-25-20, 08:41 PM
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Slow down when cornering...Lean your body more than your bike. When I ride fixed gear I never lean my bike because the risk of pedal strike is too much. I lean my body over and keep my bike as upright as possible.
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Old 12-25-20, 09:01 PM
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The way I learned to corner was to weight the outside pedal and lean the bike going into the tightest part of the corner; it keeps the inside pedal up; and seems to keep more weight toward the center of the tire.

This was at the 2013 Men's National Masters Road Championships.


Note the position of the outside leg as this group comes around a corner.


This was at a collegiate criterium.

Last edited by Doug64; 12-25-20 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 12-25-20, 09:24 PM
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^ 100% Agree
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Old 12-26-20, 06:12 AM
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TiHabanero
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Related to body angle, it is important to note that counter steering affects cornering and lean.
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Old 12-26-20, 07:04 AM
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Cornering is not something you figure out by talking about it.

Cornering is something you figure out by doing.

If you want to get better at it, go do it. You can hear all about keeping your weight back, pushing down on the outside pedal, countersteering, whatever, but it all means nothing until you actually go out and try it.
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Old 12-26-20, 07:28 AM
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Maelochs
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Cornering is not something you figure out by talking about it.

Cornering is something you figure out by doing.

If you want to get better at it, go do it. You can hear all about keeping your weight back, pushing down on the outside pedal, countersteering, whatever, but it all means nothing until you actually go out and try it.
And finding your limit is a matter of ... low-siding and grinding all the skin off one side of your body.
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Old 12-26-20, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Cornering is not something you figure out by talking about it.

Cornering is something you figure out by doing.

If you want to get better at it, go do it. You can hear all about keeping your weight back, pushing down on the outside pedal, countersteering, whatever, but it all means nothing until you actually go out and try it.
This.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
And finding your limit is a matter of ... low-siding and grinding all the skin off one side of your body.
And this.

The best cornering technique depends partly on the terrain and machine -- hence MTBers and road riders handle corners differently.

Last edited by Koyote; 12-26-20 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 12-26-20, 08:17 AM
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I believe bike lean is what it is, (for a given speed and turn radius) and moving your body in an attempt to change it will make little or no difference. Having said that I will be monitoring the thread to see what all the BF geniuses say.
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Old 12-26-20, 09:24 AM
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Rubiksoval has it correct.

At any race an observer can watch all the different techniques mentioned so far and all get the job done. All get through the corner at the same apparent speed. When watching from within the race, where small speed differences are real apparent, it is seen that the fast corners are done by racers who are good, not by any particular technique.

That said there are differences. Lower center of gravity corners faster. Applies to any vehicle. High center of gravity is even worse on bikes. Those sitting high are not pedaling smoothly. A bike bouncing along with a rough pedal stroke is not cornering fast. Those sitting upright while approaching a fast turn had better slow down. Everyone in the race photos above is as low as they can get on the bike.

Traction is determined by road surface and by how the tire contacts road surface. The only way to get a bigger contact patch is to use less air in the tire. To safely use less air means wider tires.

Non approved not recommended technique can corner faster. The most common is to keep pushing harder until the back tire breaks loose and drifts. The bike will still, usually, follow the front tire through the turn. Works with a lot more security when the front tire is significantly wider than the back. Any wanting to experiment with this should first install a rubber skeleton and armored skin. If you see someone doing this just enjoy the show, do not imitate.

The other fast technique is basically impossible except that one racer did it. Stan Szozda could pedal through any corner at full speed. When the inside pedal was about to strike he yanked the whole bike upright for a moment. Kangaroo on a bike. Looked entirely like a rider in a different universe with different laws of physics. No one else can do this. Don’t try. The useful takeaway is that Szozda rode same tires as everyone else, tires have enough grip for most anything they are asked to do.

Until they don’t. No technique creates traction when the tire is in the air. No tire creates traction on an oil slick. Plenty of other circumstances where available traction in next corner is just unknown. And then slow down. Slowing down takes us right back to where it matters not at all which technique is used.

Racers preview the course. Then do a first lap. Then it speeds up and the hundred riders in front demonstrate that yes, there is good traction in that turn and this is a good place to go fast. This basically never happens in ordinary riding. In ordinary riding the next turn is never completely known. Caution is always advised.
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Old 12-26-20, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Related to body angle, it is important to note that counter steering affects cornering and lean.
On a motorcycle, sure. Not on a bicycle. Back in my racing days, I spent plenty of time in races cornering as seen in the photos posted throughout this thread. Neither I nor any of my fellow racers ever practiced counter-steering, for the simple reason that we all weighed considerably more than our bikes.

And, no, we weren't "unconsciously" counter-steering. Having read mentions of counter-steering over the years, I have experimented with the technique on a bike. I see that it can be done, but I don't see the point, since it doesn't result in cornering more rapidly or more safely.

Last edited by Trakhak; 12-26-20 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 12-26-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by pavement_nyc View Post
Motorcyclists lean their body more than their bike, to keep the bike more upright and keep the contact patch close to the center.
Not always...
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Old 12-26-20, 09:45 AM
  #14  
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A motorcycle is different from a bicycle. On a motorcycle, you accelerate in the curve and you lean way off the bike to counter the effect of the acceleration, which wants to straighten the bike up. On a bicycle I think it is of little use if the rider understands how to control the bike via counter steering.
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Old 12-26-20, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
I believe bike lean is what it is, (for a given speed and turn radius) and moving your body in an attempt to change it will make little or no difference. Having said that I will be monitoring the thread to see what all the BF geniuses say.
I agree with this. If you lean the bike X degrees the bike will make an arc of X radius. It is what it is. If you lean the bike more you make a turn with a smaller radius...unless you're at walking speed and you're actually 'steering' the bike. At speed it's different.
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Old 12-26-20, 12:23 PM
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Some points:
1. On a motorcycle you don’t always lean into the corner. When you are doing low speed tight turns you hold your body upright while leaning the bike.
2. on a motorcycle you gradually accelerate starting from the apex of the turn , in order to stop the front from running wide. Sadly this is not possible on a bike- so bikes do have the tendency to run wide at corner exits.
3. lesson from motorcycling: traction budget: braking and turning each take up some of that budget. So if you are cornering hard- ease up on the brakes. If you are braking hard- don’t corner.
4. lesson 2 from motorcycling: just like I tell my kids when they are skiing- you ski with your eyes. Look at where you want to go. Don’t look at what you’re trying to avoid. When on the paved road look at the vanishing point of the road. Follow that vanishing point as it turns corners. On a tight corner you have to ‘look through the hill’ to follow that vanishing point.
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Old 12-26-20, 04:03 PM
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TiHabanero
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My wife and kids are right, I am on odd one. I do indeed counter steer when on my bicycle. I do indeed counter steer when on my motor bike. Guess it is a habit, a bad habit, but it really does work, even on a bicycle.
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Old 12-26-20, 04:51 PM
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Isn't the diagram on the first photo a little misleading? The force will be the sum of gravity (straight down) and the centrifugal force (horizontal, to the rider's right) and will act through the center of gravity, so more through his navel than his armpit.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pavement_nyc View Post

Mountain bikers lean the bike more than their body, so their weight pushes more straight down into the ground.


This rider is standing out of the saddle while cornering, which is not typical unless you're riding slowly or navigating over rough terrain. It's a lot more difficult to lean into a corner while standing, hence the more upright angle.

Every other shot in this thread shows a seated rider leaning into the corner, which is much more typical.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
Not always...
I'm confused by this post. All of these riders are leaning their bodies more than their bikes. The lead rider in this photo has most of their body on the inside of the bike.

Most GP moto riders lean their bodies into the corner so much that both cheeks are completely off the seat, on the inside of the corner, with only their thigh on the seat. Here's a more extreme shot to consider. Notice where the rider's bottom and torso are in relation to the bike:

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