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Tips For Downhill Cornering

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by jnclem, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    OP, might I suggest a class? Not a typical basic riders course, but an adv type, even a motocross perhaps.

    I don't think you're in the wrong at all for approaching downhills with more caution than an uphill. Especially those spooky steep ones where you look down your forktubes at them before diving in. Things can go real wrong, real fast on those.

    If you've got an area to practice on, I'd also suggest doing it there. Not on a series of downhills, or a long ride covering different ones, but a single track spot where you can practice technique over and over again without distraction and additional variables.

    And coaching if you can get it. Having a skilled rider watching you and giving you feedback on what they see can be tremedously helpfull.

    And, no matter what, a genuinely steep downhill is a demanding ride. There is *nothing* wrong with approaching it with caution, or with feeling less than bullet proof with the increased snow up on the mountain peak.
  2. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

    Mar 31, 2004

    At first I was like what the hell, then I noticed you live in TX, and I was like, OK that explains it. :rofl
  3. ER70S-2

    ER70S-2 Long timer

    Sep 30, 2009
    SE Denver-ish
    As long as you break up your rambling every four or five lines like you did, some guys will read most of what ya said. :freaky

    :nod Never, ever over ride your line of sight, it's where a lot of that sand in the corners drops riders that think the street should be swept ahead of them.

    I went for a 190 mile ride today through the front range twisties (DR 650 for reference), there's sand every where. :evil I use a lot of front brake on downhills, I just do it in a straight line and only when the tires are actually on pavement. On a right hander that means I'm in the left track braking, as I get near the turn I release the brake a bit, cross over the sand strip into the right track and finish my braking before the turn. If I'm a little hot, I'll drag the rear brake gently (trail brake) until I'm happy with my speed and gently roll on the throttle through the rest of the turn.

    On a blind single lane left hander, I'll stay in the right track so I'm not leaning across the double yellow and offering my shoulder as a sacrifice. I'll be going pretty slow and careful because there's frequently no right shoulder to go wide onto.


    OP: an observation, you've been riding bicycles for 30 years and they don't have a motor. No shit. :eek1 Point is: you have to pedal to go. (duh). The last thing you want to do is brake off the speed you pedaled your ass off to get up to, so you roll your corners as smooth and as fast and with as little braking as possible. :nod Now that you have a motor, the brakes can be used into every downhill turn if ya want. Does your bike have dual front rotors? If so, you can brake all you want, depending on the surface directly under the front tire.

    Learn to use your front brake, gently at first. Use it for every stop, you're developing muscle memory. I had a guy turn left right in front of me last week. A full panic stricken squish of the front brake gave the Mocha brown F-150 just enough time to clear, I missed his rear bumper by a foot. It was a reflex available because of always using the front brake, not just when I feel like practicing. Front knobbies sound really weird when they're just about locked up. :uhoh
    Dakez will be along inna-minit to tell me I should have known he was going to turn and allowed for it. :lurk
  4. Charlie Gary

    Charlie Gary Been here awhile

    Sep 28, 2009
    Near Seattle, WA
    <table border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset"> Originally Posted by Charlie Gary [​IMG]
    The one thing I found that makes it easier to corner going downhill is to downshift one or two gears so you can slow down if you ease off the throttle. It's not the proper thing to do in a corner, but it also means it's easier to control your forward progress with the throttle. Proper technique stabilizes your emotions as much as your suspension. A confident rider is usually a competent rider.

    Which is why I included the statement now made more visible with bigger and redder font.
  5. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

    May 16, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    jnclem, sounds like you have got the answer you were looking for.

    I am always sceptical about how much help a board like this can be for riding concerns that mostly defy accurate description. It is great when someone gets something back that he (or she) can use. :1drink

    It might be fun if you replied to this thread when you've tried out your Adv-enhanced insight. :D
  6. sphyrnidus

    sphyrnidus born to ride

    Apr 2, 2009
    Of course the GS is one of the best bikes there is for riding in the mountains. That won't be the problem.
    Now some advice:
    Riding is all about looking where you are going. Especially in corners. Look where you want to go and the beast listens to you. So if you are in a tight corner, like a hairpin, look all the way trough it. Don't look to the side of the road, 'cause that is where you"ll end up.

    You ride a GS, it breaks tremendously well on just letting the gas handle go. So try not to use the break too much, just let go of the gas and it'll slow down beautifully. The result is: it won't dive down and won't shift the weight so much to the front.

    Try counter steering. Get on the YouTube and search for counter steering. It will help you a lot getting trough the corners.

    Always stay on the outside of the curve and when you can see through the curve, then steer toward the inside. It'll make you stay away form on comming traffic and also provides you with a better view of what is comming i.e. you can look farther ahead. We even teach beginners to use (all or part) of the lane of the oncomming traffic., so you have a good view, if you see a car etc. comming ease over to your own lane.
    Get your speed right at the beginning of the curve and start accelerating out of the curve while at the summit.

    Btw I'm 60 and ride a lot in the mountains on a GSA and I ride ahead of groups to learn them how to ride (and survive :) )
  7. jnclem

    jnclem True Airhead

    Sep 11, 2012
    Gunnison, CO.
    Planning on it. Probably will be riding over Black Mesa on Saturday. It's a wonderful, low traffic, very curvy, local road that runs along the edge of the 2000' deep Black Canyon of the Gunnison. That should do the trick.
  8. jnclem

    jnclem True Airhead

    Sep 11, 2012
    Gunnison, CO.
    I do appreciate all, well, most, of the advice I got in this thread. Today I did a steeper, curvier ride than last week, and was much more comfortable. I applied a few things that some of you posted in this thread, and it worked. Here are the things I was working on:

    1. I sat more forward in the twisties. In this position I feel more "centered" in the bike, and it simply feels like a more aggressive posture. Odd, but it is more than just a weight shift, I'm not sure I can describe it, but I think my whole focus goes further down the road. Sounds wacked I know, but that's how it feels.

    2 & 3. There was a lot of discussion about a lower entry speed in downhill corners, and braking going in to set the suspension. I thought about that a lot during the week. While all of that is true, I don't think I was so much going into the turn too fast, as I was braking, with engine and or brakes, long, early, and gently, then rolling into the turn in a sort of lazy fashion, and accelerating out.

    Today I started coming up to the turn with just a touch more speed, braking, with engine and or brakes, with a little more authority, then dropping into the turn. I'm not talking about jamming on the brakes, or snapping off the throttle, just doing things a little more sharply. I could feel the suspension compress a bit, then I could roll into the turn effortlessly, and everything felt much more solid. I was getting a greater lean angle, and the bike just felt like it was in the perfect groove. Again, hard to describe.

    This is all on nice clean dry pavement, and I am not talking about any high speed here. I was very much in control. It was simply amazing how much difference just a couple of tweaks made. So thanks, now I will need a lot more practice!

    And if any of you have never ridden The Black Mesa between Gunnison and Crawford Colorado, you really should put it on your list.
  9. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

    Aug 29, 2009
    NW Washington State
    The pesky thing about riding downhill in the mountains is that right after one tight downhill turn comes another downhiller! Yes, brake going into the turn to get your speed way down, then very lightly roll on some throttle through the turn, then brake for the next turn, etc.

    Approach a left turn wide on the right side. Brake as you ride deep into the turn, then turn sharpest as you're at your slowest speed. Come to the inside of the turn about 2/3rds of the way through the turn, except...because you entered wide and deep, you can see what you're getting into and set your line to avoid hazards or to ride the best line to set up for a smooth next turn. On a left turn, don't let any part of your body cross the yellow line--give on coming drivers room to miss you. Reverse the instructions for a right turn.

    Be sure you don't lean away from the turn. Lean your upper body toward the pavement to the inside of the turn. Point your chin at your turn exit. Look through the turn and keep your eyes level. Feel like you're taking control of the turn, not merely reacting to the turn.

    Steer with only your inside hand. Approaching a left turn, for example, push the left grip to make the left turn. Push harder to turn sharper. Pull back to straighten. Relax your outside hand and arm. Relax both.

    If there is a Lee Parks Total Control riding class near you, take it. Or any other high level street riding class.

    Buy these books:
    Keith Code A Twist of the Wrist -- II (or 2) Code lists "Survival Reactions" that are natural, instinctive, and wrong! Never do these.
    Lee Parks Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques
    If you get into it, get Bernt Spiegel The Upper Half of the Motorcycle: On the Unity of Rider and Machine It has some Teutonic heaviness, but is great.
  10. morena67

    morena67 Adventurer

    Sep 9, 2011
    Acapulco. Mexico.
  11. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Apr 16, 2007
  12. advNZer?

    advNZer? Long timer

    Dec 31, 2008
    Wellington,New Zealand
    i reckon a lot of motorcyclists dont like the feel of the bike when its truly coasting..they either like to be accellerating or braking but not coasting...i cant describe it but it almost feels like its going to fall over,but it wont,Getting comfortable with this feeling makes it easier to ride downhill.Sometime i might drag the rear brake slightly right into the apex of a curve if the gradient is more than i have anticipated.
  13. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Likely Lost.

    Aug 6, 2009
    The egronomic position the bike puts you in should always be accounted for when you forearms are level with the ground. In sport applications its usually a lot more aggressive than many riders actaully use.

    Accounting for a later apex helps as well. This would vary with your braking method (trail or snap turning) as well.

    Its also why you shouldn't outride your site lines on the road unless you know it VERY VERY well. I've been known to do a pass on certain twisty sections are low speed and I mean coasting speed, just to see the conditions and look for obstacles before I even go to an amusing speed, which is still something like 5/6 tenths.

    What you are feeling is weight bias on the bike's geometry. When the front suspension compresses, you are increasing the rake, and decreasing trail, both of which make the bike more responsive to left/right inputs. At an advanced level this is ALSO where trailbraking comes in very handy, the idea being to keep the front suspension in one place going from the brakes into the apex. Basically replacing the suspension compression due to breaking with the compression from turning the corner.

    Nailing it is a thing of beauty, but its pretty hard to practice without a track, parkling lot speed is generally to low, and on the street is a little dangerous.

    Everyone should always be practicing, the learning curve for motorcycling is infinite, there is always something you can be doing better, no matter how long you ride.

    I live on the wrong side of the country now, but thanks for the tip.
  14. fltplan

    fltplan Just toolin around

    Feb 20, 2011
    I've heard that before. That's a Keith Code quote I've heard numerous times.