Crispin is a 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
ABOVE: Just look at the direction of the rider’s head – you can see he’s looking far down the road. That’s one of the keys to getting your corner speed right
Sometimes I go in too fast, sometimes way too slow. What’s going on?
Misjudging corner entry speed is a recurring theme for experienced riders, either going in too slowly - at which point they generally shake their head in frustration - or charging in and getting flustered. When you go in too fast, all the instinctive reactions take over. You shut the throttle, unsettling the bike, then target fixate (for example on right handers, it will normally be on the left-hand kerb) or your vision starts hunting. If either of these happen you lose your line and it’s impossible to smoothly accelerate towards the exit, so you end up coming out of the corner slowly.
So why does it happen?
The reason for this - and going in too slowly - is not using the limit point properly, or at all. This is the system where you keep looking at where the kerbs converge (called the limit point), or, on a left-hander, where the centreline of the road and the left-hand kerb converge. As you see the limit point come towards you, you should be slowing down.
But how do I judge how fast to go?
The important thing to remember is you’re not judging how fast you can go through a corner, but whether you can stop safely on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear. People say ‘I want to go faster through corners’ but really what then need to do is concentrate on how safely they can stop. When riders are misjudging corner entry speeds it’s interesting to ask them where they are getting their information from - how they are judging the right speed? And a lot of them describe their vision hunting - they’re not being specific about where they look. Using the limit point system cures this immediately.
ABOVE: Going in too fast can trigger panic, which causes tension, which stops you steering properly, which means you run wide…
So, going in too fast is big problem?
Yes. Ninety percent of the riders I see with corner speed problems tend to charge into corners, and they only need to drop the entry speed a fraction to maintain confidence, vision, position and a positive throttle. If they do that, when the limit point starts to move away they can gradually start to accelerate smoothly so they leave the corner going a lot more quickly than when they rushed in and panicked. It just calms the whole thing down.
Anything else I should be doing?
A mistake often linked to this is not having a riding plan, so people just react to hazards rather than anticipating and prioritising the dangers. For example, if you’re sweeping round a right-hand bend with a junction just following the bend, you shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a car just about to pop out of the junction. Riders who don’t plan will come steaming round the bend, exiting on the left side of the bend and suddenly think ‘shit’ because there’s a car there. If you have a plan, you would have taken in the junction sign 100m before the bend and assessed that the potential danger from a car at that junction means you can’t just use the limit point to judge corner entry speed. You need to go in a little slower, so you can move to a safer road position for the corner exit, so they can see you earlier, and you can see them. It happens to us all occasionally (often when we’re tired), but if you’re not riding with a plan it’s going to happen a lot. You need to be a thinking rider.