A common place to feel uneasy is when turning your adventure bike off road. The feel you get from the front of the bike can be vague and traction can be hard to judge. Here are some tips to help you build some confidence in the turns.
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY SHANE BOOTH
Before we go any further, always remember the roads, tracks and trails are shared and anything could come the other way at any time. Always remember to stay left at all costs; there are no second chances if you cut a corner and are met with a bull bar. It’s easy to get complacent with this but you just can’t afford to be.
Keep your eyes forward and scanning the upcoming terrain. The only way to get a corner right is if you see it and give yourself time to set up for it. Ride and judge your speed to match what you can see. If the corner is blind, don’t just assume it’s the same as the last 20 — it may tighten up and catch you out. Read the terrain and keep some room for error up your sleeve.
SET YOUR SPEED
This is the part that matters the most — get this wrong and it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll have trouble. Speed is by far the commonest problem for riders in cornering: you need to be able to judge the radius of the turn and also the traction you have. Speed needs to be judged so you can maintain traction while making the required turn. The less traction, the less speed; the more traction, the more speed can be carried. That’s not hard to work out but the actual speed required is. Experience will help you get the speed right but the best thing to do is just go with slower is better than faster. You need to make sure you’ve finished braking and have your speed right before the turn starts.
WEIGHT THE OUTSIDE
Standing is generally the best way to turn these bikes: you want a central position as far as forward to back goes. As the bike leans to the inside, to turn it you want to keep your weight to the outside and down through the outside footpeg. Let the bike lean and try to stay as upright as possible with your body; you don’t want to lean in with the bike.
ROLL ON THE POWER
If you’ve set your speed correctly you should be able begin rolling the throttle on early and gently. These bikes corner much better when you can pick up the throttle early and get through the turn with one smooth progressive roll-on of the power. Ride higher gears if possible to help with a smooth power delivery.
Don’t let the exit of your turn blow out — this is a quick way to end up on the wrong side of the road. Make sure you look around the turn and on the line you want to take. Don’t make the mistake of looking where you might end up because that’s exactly what will happen. Be patient with the throttle and learn to be accurate with your line.