Jul 20, 2007

Cornering: Part 1- Lets start

Out of all the thrills that biking promises, one of the best is cornering. There are no two ways about it. Words like getting it down, scraping the pegs and mashing the feeler bolts instantly light up a biker's eyes! Yes, there is fun in speeding, dragging and getting the front wheel up, but nothing comes close to attacking a corner. It is one of the most teasing activities for the mind. Now, as I type this snippet, I am closing my eyes, watching a rerun of a great corner I attacked a while back.

Once you see a bend approaching, the calculation starts. The eyes start their measurements. How long is the curve? Is it an increasing bend? Or a decreasing one? Is the surface alright? Any oncoming traffic? Goats or human beings jay walking? As you get closer, you start easing off the gas, making last minute adjustments with the brakes to get to the right speed and then you lean!

Fun to the hilt we say. Lets take it step by step for those who wish to start!

1) Identify the corner you wish to start on. Make sure that you know the road by heart here. Avoid broken patches on the surface and if its a blind bend in your friendly neighborhood, scrap it and look for another one!

2) Start early morning or mid afternoon. Traffic is low in most areas during these periods and you will have other things to concentrate on.

3) Approach the corner slowly and go about it like any other day. Did you lean? Yes, most certainly because no matter how slow you were, a two wheeler will lean. Ok we understand that you want to lean more. That is a function of speed. Try the same corner again with 15 more kph on the speedo. You will realise that you had to lean more as you did so. Aim to get the entire process smooth. Remember, what you see in Moto GP is a different ballgame. Dont try to hang off the bike. Most people just push themselves away from the bike (its the other way round actually) and feel that they are very close to the tarmac. Nope brother, stay firm and with the bike as you lean.

4) As you up your speeds slowly after getting the hang of it, break the corner (any corner) into 3 parts. The first, is to plan your approach speed. Mostly, this is fairly easy as the human mind will choose a speed below the maximum speed that can be carried into the corner. In most cases, the body realises the stability and sure footedness of a motorcycle much faster than the conscious mind. These parameters also kick in.

Secondly, approach the corner from the outside flank of the road or the middle, judge the bend as you go and come out from a line which is more to the left of the line you started the corner on!

Thirdly, as you are leaning and the gas is cut to the motor, keep judging for the right spot to twist the throttle again. This should ideally be after 70% of the leaning action is over (for starters only, regulars can start twisting their wrist after 30% too!) and the lug generated by the motor should assist you in straightening out of the bend.

Be yourself. Think while you are riding and never take unnecessary risks. As we take cornering further to higher levels, we will discuss braking during corners and lots of other tricks that will require us to unlearn and then relearn stuff!

On yeah.. Do not forget the full face lid, good shoes and a riding jacket before you start. Check air pressure and the tyre treads. If your tyres represent the ones on the GP bikes, chances are that you will wipe yourself out just like the treads!



niel said...

hey i see what the honda ppl r trying to do.... i mean give the unicorn a sporty look or whatever...but honestly...this newer 1 catches the eye..... but as i see on my desktop it does look a very gawdy ...a typical galli/mohallah type a two wheeler. when will they understand that putting stickers n alloys r not serving the purpose !!!...hello!! they are slassified as ACCESORIES...lol.
atleast trust the indian biker with a few more horses, a bigger engine n less fuel capacity, sumthin we havent had before..,we wont let u down...

but alas i guess they w'd say "its for the masses"

Max said...

GOOD ONE!! If you dont mind me adding my 2 cents to it:

1. WEIGHT the foot pegs, get the knee out, use the inner ball of either foot (depending on lean direction) to point downwards on the footpeg, thereby accentuating or rather facilitating a dip. ( try it after a bit of practise at lower speeds, once you get the shoulder and elbow right )

2. approach a curve at a higher rpm (low rpms at higher gears is a myth) its much easier to control.

3. go easy on the brakes, even if you feel you are a bit too fast than you should be, refrain from jamming either brake (both to avoid ruining the curve or crashing, or to save being abused from whoever's folllowing ya!) instead cut down a gear and get the lean right, if you know your bike, theres no reason why you still cant make it! (attempting high speed curves as a novice or on a bike you arent familiar with is plain stupid anyway!), remember braking through a curve and changing gears, is TOUGHER than the lean and negotiation itself, so dont succcumb to natural temptations!

4. yes you can get that backside off the seat once you have practised the knick knacks at lower speed and eventually at higher speeds, but DONT try getting the knee down! (unless you've got a kneee puck on a nice expensive alpinestar or spidi suit!)

5. Keep your head steady, (yeah once your an expert you can flash the high beam, wave out, look around and other stuff, but if its your first time then just focus on getting through it in one piece!) focus on the road, more importantly in the direction you want the bike to go! forget that chick in the car next to ya or the bloke on the swanky sedan, focus ahead, neck steady, eyes WIDE OPEN (try to half expect a stone, oil, sand, dog, cow, auto, pedestrian, always helps to be mentally prepared!)

6. once your done with this ^ we'll proceed towards dipping in and out, of the same curve, thats right. the same blinder (its not surprising to say the least, because as much as we would like to have a racing line on a sweeper, there will always be traffic up ahead of us that we might need to avoid rather than running into,) you may think, why dip in and out? isnt that swerving? dangerous! illegal! Yes it is all that, BUT, it is less dangerous than finding yourself at a 45 degree lean at a high speed and needing to brake because theres someone in your line, and believe me, the legalities involved in explaining your act of ramming someone from the back on a high speed winder is worse than the 100Rs fine you might pay IF you make it out of that situation alive. So, either don't attempt a high speed curve, OR, learn how to get yourself out off all kinds of shi* safely and in one piece once halfway there!

and for chrissake use protection! wear a lid! :-p

Max said...

Hey Rahul,

I refined my earlier comment a bit and posted it on my blog, feel free to use it for the cornering posts if it helps!