Efficient Turning | Street Savvy

Set Your Speed First... And Then Turn

By Mitch Boehm, Photography by Kevin Wing

When it comes to single-bike accidents, "getting in hot" is a prime destroyer of both motorcycles and motorcyclists.

You know the feeling...there you are, ripping down a curvy, deserted backroad, in the flow and feeling good about things, when suddenly you find yourself running out of tarmac halfway through a corner. The Armco barrier-or worse-is creeping dangerously close, adrenaline begins flooding your system and your butt's beginning to harvest seat foam...

We've talked about ways to escape this situation in these pages for years, though they're very difficult to pull off unless you're an expert. Namely, you want to maintain pressure on the inside bar, not jump on the brakes, to maintain lean angle (or maybe lean the bike over a bit more) and, above all, ignore the temptation to stand the bike up. Doing any of these is a sure-fire crash-unless, of course, you have unlimited run-off room.

A better action plan is not getting into this situation in the first place. All of which means adhering to this one little slice of advice: Always get slowed down to a speed you're comfortable with before you tip the bike into the corner.

It sounds simple, and it is if you keep it front and center cranially. But in the rush to go fast and get better and really flick 'er in there we sometimes push a little too hard. And when we push, we override the little speed control in our brains that lets us know when we're going too fast, or just fast enough.

I've taught loads of new-rider schools over the last 20+ years, and the most useful bit of advice I give racetrack rookies once they've learned where the track goes is to set their speed at a comfortable level before they tip their bike into a corner. If they listen and follow through, they literally never crash-at least from too much cornering speed.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to forget this little info-nugget, especially in the rush to catch or impress someone, whether on the track or on some twisty back road. And once your mind switches from safe-speed mode to one that's more ego-oriented, you're susceptible to "getting in too hot"-which leaves you at the mercy of your ability to get out of a very sticky situation. And as we stated earlier, only the best riders can do this successfully. Better to not take the chance, eh?

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