It’s terrifying, dangerous and can ruin your day even if you get away with it. So why does it happen and how can you fix it?
Your expert Crispin d’Albertanson is a Nurburgring coach, senior IAM observer and ex-endurance racer who now works with the well-respected Hopp Rider Training. You can book a course on road or track at www.hoppridertraining.co.uk or 07881 878989
They might actually make this, but it’s going to be tight and they're clearly not on the perfect line. Running wide is generally down to an error in vision, steering or throttle control
So why do I run wide?
It’s caused by the famous three: vision; steering; throttle control. It normally starts with too high an entry speed (often because you’re following someone else) which then causes you to panic. You then fix your attention on what seems to be the danger - the verge on right handers, for example - rather than looking through the corner to where you want to go. And suddenly you’re running wide. Looking at where you perceive the danger to be is natural, but it’s a destructive reaction when riding a bike.
But even if I’m looking in the right direction it can still go wrong?
Yes, if you’re not steering effectively. I often see riders with straight arms, and in that position it’s almost impossible to steer properly. I’ve spoken to a lot of riders who’ve said ‘it seems to run wide,’ or ‘I can’t make the apex’ and when I ask what they’re doing when they enter the corner, they don’t know. That’s the problem - they’re not proactively steering. Once you know what you’re doing and what you need to do more of, it all becomes much easier.
What does ‘proactively steering’ mean?
It’s not difficult - you push the right bar to go right, push the left bar to go left. There’s a lot of great information about counter-steering out there these days, but a lot of people have problems putting that into action.
And even if you’re doing that it can still go wrong?
Indeed it can. The next problem is throttle control and what I see a lot is people being on the gas as they’re turning. But of course when they get on the gas, the weight shifts to the rear of the bike, the front is lighter and the bike starts to run wide. They’re driving into the corner rather than easing the throttle which gets the weight over the front to help steer the bike. Once you’ve got it steered you can get back on the throttle and progressively drive through the corner.
Why would you want to accelerate into the corner?
There’s a belief from some people that they must have a positive throttle when they go into a corner. But it’s better to think of it as an eased throttle which will smoothly transfer the weight to the front and make steering easy. I see this a lot on the track too – the Complex at Thruxton is a classic for it - where riders try to steer while hard on the gas and then wonder why they can’t hit the apex. They’ve got to ease the throttle, push the bar, let the bike fall into the corner and then get back on the throttle as the bike holds that beautiful line to the apex.
And I guess if you run wide, you then become more worried about running wide?
Exactly. Running wide can affect people who’ve been riding for years. Often I’ll see riders going into a right hand bend in an offside position (ie in the centre of the road) because they have scared themselves in the past by running wide and consequently want to stay clear of the verge. But doing this limits your vision, positions you in conflict with oncoming traffic and makes the corner itself tighter than it needs to be. They feel safer because they think if they run wide they’ve got a bit more room, but it’s a more dangerous way to ride.