Picking Your Line
Rider’s Corner with Sarah Lahalih
One of the greatest feelings achieved on a motorcycle can be through a turn or curve. However, entry speed and line selection play a huge role in the outcome of a corner. There is a sweet science to cornering, and it consists of everything a rider does prior to the corner. If the setup to the corner is done properly, the only adjustment a rider needs to make through the turn is to accelerate.
Setup may include adjusting body position, braking, looking through the turn or choosing a line. The most common path of travel for a corner is outside-inside-outside. That is, entering a bit wide, hugging the apex in the turn and exiting wide. Rolling on the throttle at the apex stands the bike up and helps achieve an outside exit. This particular line selection is usually the fastest way around a curve. It also allows for a better visual path.
The most common cause of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents is riders going too wide in a turn or curve. This causes them to go into oncoming traffic, hit guard rails or even fall off the side of the road. An easy adjustment riders can make is to turn their heads and look further through the corner, as bikes want to follow the eyes. Another very important adjustment a rider can make to avoid exiting wide is to brake or slow to an appropriate entry speed prior to committing to the curve.
Picking a line is not always black and white. Circumstances arise while in corners that may cause riders to adjust their position, including fallen rock or other debris, slowed traffic, potholes, etc. Adjustments can be made safely by looking well ahead, so we can plan ahead.
I always recommend attending a track day, at least once a year to work on these techniques and apply them to the street. Never stop trying to become a better, smoother rider.
Sarah Lahalih is a professional motorcycle riding instructor and owner of Moto Skills, Inc., a private riding school in Los Angeles, CA. Having trained thousands of riders, including professional athletes, celebrities and military personnel, Sarah’s expertise and industry experience are only rivaled by her passion for riding.