6 Tips to Help You Corner Faster

Here's how to corner faster - and safer - from one of those crazy cyclocross fellas. There's plenty to learn for the road, and MTB, too.

By Jen See |

We could all learn how to corner faster – whether we are exploring new roads or racing off-road. And the kings of the cornerers (if that’s a thing) are the cyclocross riders we watch , jaws-to-the-floor, on Supersport each weekend.  Here, 2007 and 2008 Cross Vegas winner and cyclocross pro rider Ryan Trebon has six tips to make cornering your next secret weapon.

Experiment with a lower tire pressure

Tire pressure can often mean the difference between railing a corner and sliding out. “The lower the tire pressure, the more traction you have, but there’s a point of diminishing returns,” says Trebon. Go too low for your weight, and you’ll be more vulnerable to flats, especially on bumpy courses. Trebon suggests spending some time trying out different pressures to find your sweet spot. Obviously, this is more off-road relevant than on the road – although the rise of the gravel bike has made us all far more aware of tyre pressure. But even on the road, experiment a little. Lower pressures keep the rubber gripping the tar on our gnarly chip-over surfaces.

Stay relaxed

“I always tell people to be super relaxed in your upper body,” says Trebon. The more relaxed you are on the bike, the better you can cruise over technical sections. “If you’re heavy on the bike and you hit a bump, you’re going to bounce around,” he says. That’s when you’re going to slow down and become less efficient. It could also make you crash. Try not to fight the bike’s movement, recommends Trebon. “You need to float with the bike.” Relaxed also means when you hit that surprise cateye, discarded burger packet or small rodent mid-corner, by the time you over-react, you are done with the bump and can refocus.

Set yourself up for success

You may be great at multi-tasking, but your tires aren’t. They’re best at doing one thing at a time: braking or turning. “Even if it’s a dry race and there’s tons of traction, you still want to scrub ninety percent of your speed off before the turn,” says Trebon. That doesn’t mean you need to slow to a crawl—just that any momentum changes should take place well in advance of the corner. Trebon cautions that major adjustments after that point can cause a wash out. “You can’t go in too fast and on the wrong line and think you can correct it mid-corner,” he says.

Centre your weight

To corner well on any bike, you need to be ready to shift your weight forward and backward smoothly as the bike moves under you. “You typically enter any corner in a neutral position,” says Trebon. This allows you to move the bike back and forward, depending on the terrain. Be careful though; a common mistake is to sit too far back on the saddle, says Trebon. Without enough rider weight to keep it in line, the front wheel will weave and wander, which may send you places you weren’t planning to go.

Look ahead

“Your head is a really powerful tool in terms of pulling you around the course,” says Trebon. “If you’re looking through the turn, it’s going to naturally make your body go that way.” Your body tends to follow your head and your bike—for better or worse—will typically go in the direction you’re looking. If you stare at the tree, you will almost certainly hit the tree. “That’s just how it works!” says Trebon. To track correctly out of a corner, try looking at the exit, rather than the apex.

Be creative

Trebon says he tries to think about a series of corners as one connected picture, with each corner flowing into the next—which sometimes means forgoing the “fastest” line through one corner to set up for the next one. Trebon says “sometimes you have to think outside the box and take ‘wrong’ lines” to get the best traction or the fastest overall line. “The more momentum you can carry out of the turns, the less you have to accelerate back up to speed.”

Learning to read a cyclocross or mountain bike course, or even a derring-do road descent, requires lots of time on the bike, but that’s fine with Trebon. “’Descending and cornering is fun to practice, and it’s fun to try to get things right!”

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