How To Corner On A Motorcycle Properly?

When it comes to turning, motorcycles don't work in the same way as many of their larger vehicle counterparts do. When on a bike, you need to learn to change direction instead of simply turning the steering wheel to point you in the right direction. This process is known as "cornering," and it's an essential skill for any biker to learn.

For those new to motorbikes, the process of leaning can feel very counterintuitive, and cornering can be a struggle. And while you'll need to practice to get the process down fully, having some tips in advance won't hurt your chances at getting better.

How to Properly Corner

When you want to corner correctly, you'll need to take care through each step of the process. Thankfully, four core ideas go into making a successful turn on motorcycles and sport bikes, and they're easy to remember.

Slow Down

If you've driven any other type of vehicle before, this step will seem familiar. If you head into a turn too fast, you'll throw off your center of gravity and risk getting into an accident (and your motorcycle insurance premium will likely see some changes). To prevent this issue, you want to slow down with both brakes as you approach the turn.

Every turn of every road is different, so there isn't a set "safe" speed to always use. Sharper turns will require you to slow down much more, while more full curves give you more room to coast. As you get in some practice, you'll gain a better sense of the appropriate speed to use when approaching a turn. Your goal is to reach an entry speed where you can roll off the throttle throughout the corner, which we'll discuss in more detail.

Looking Through

For a smooth experience, you want to look through the corner. This concept doesn't just mean turning your eyes on the direction you want to go, but also positioning head so that you are physically looking in the direction you want to go. Doing so will allow you to focus better on the turn and see it through correctly instead of misjudging your movement.

Press the Corresponding Grip

If you've only ever watched people drive a motorcycle without trying it yourself, it can be easy to think that you need to lean your whole body to get the bike to turn the way you want it. However, it's much simpler than that. Instead, you only need to press the grip that corresponds to the direction you want to go, and the bike will adjust for the lean without you having to force it.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't follow through with your bike's movement. Being too stiff can upset your balance and make it hard for the bike to adjust as it needs to make a smooth corner. Just remember that you and your bike should work together, rather than trying to push each other around.

Roll the Throttle

Once you've slowed down to a suitable entry speed, have turned to look through the turn, and pressed the corresponding grip for the direction of your turn, you can roll on the throttle. If you don't, your bike won't have the momentum that it needs to stay balanced, even as it leans to the side. Rolling off the throttle or braking can make your turn much choppier, which isn't enjoyable or as stable.

At a minimum, you should aim to maintain the throttle throughout the turn. So long as you came in at an appropriate entry speed, you should have no issues rolling on through. Once you've reached the end of your turn, you can run the throttle a bit more, which will get the bike back to an upright position and let you cruise along your way.

How to Corner Faster

Once you learn to corner safely, you've gained a fantastic skill to use while biking. However, there's always room to improve, and many people have an interest in cornering even faster. Not only does it look cool, but the extra burst of speed can get you where you want to go more quickly. So how can you do so while still managing to ride safely?

Many different factors go into a faster turn, and here are a few you can consider:

Planning a cornering line – whenever you effectively look through the corner, you'll be able to set a clear path for where you want to end up. Having a clear visual lets you make a smoother turn, so you don't have to sacrifice speed for corrections.

Avoiding stiffness – If you're not flexible enough to move with your bike, then you'll have issues operating it in a fluid way that encourages speed. Mainly, you want to avoid locking your shoulders or tensing up your hands. Making a conscious effort to stay loose will pay off.

Pay attention to weight transfer – If you've ever watched a pro take a tight corner, you've likely seen them perform knee dragging, which is an advanced method of adjusting their body position to go with the turn. You don't have to go to that extreme to see speed results as a beginner, though, and leaning a bit into the corner will be an excellent first step.

Upgrading your bike – Nothing can replace the proper technique when it comes to cornering faster, but sometimes a little mechanical adjustment won't hurt things either. With advanced aftermarket parts, you can see a performance boost from your bike—as well as enhanced motorcycle values.

Tips for Improving Your Motorcycle Skills

Cornering is just one of the many skills needed to ride a motorcycle safely and skillfully. If you're interested in improving your overall riding game, whether it's while taking turns or no, then we have some tips for you to consider.


No one is expecting you to get onto your bike for the first time and pull off some jaw-dropping tricks, and you shouldn't either. Accept that becoming a skilled motorcycle rider takes time—and get to work. Set aside time to practice, and the building blocks will form together. Over time, the things that you once had trouble with will start to become second nature.

While essential for all motorcycle aspects, practicing can be especially helpful when it comes to working on cornering. If you can find a nice broad turn to practice with a relatively soft place to land if you fall, you'll be much happier for it when sharper corners come your way in the future. Besides, practice equates to an excuse to get on your bike more, anyways!!

Pay Attention to Following Distance

Just like when driving a car, you don't want to follow too close to another vehicle when on a motorcycle. If you do, you may not have enough distance to slow down entirely if you need to make a sudden stop. When on your bike, you want to stay at least two seconds back whenever another vehicle is ahead of you.

This skill is vital to practice, and not just because it keeps you safe. Additionally, the more conscious effort you put into tracking how much distance is between you and other drivers, the sooner it will become a subconscious thought that lets you have better reaction times while on the road.

Understand Max Braking Force

To keep our brakes in good shape for longer, we tend to want to brake early and ease our way into it. However, it's also essential to understand the maximum force your brakes can have behind them when you're trying to slow down. Since you'll want to be able to stop in time during an emergency, you need to know what your bike is capable of doing.

By starting at low speeds and working on pressing the brake lever until it reaches max output, you can upgrade your speed, allowing you to stop adequately at any time.

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