The essence of motorcycle riding is cornering: many motorcycle riders agree with that. You may keep enhancing your cornering skills for the rest of your life, and you will probably never reach full perfection (well, maybe with the exception of Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa).
What kind of mistakes are often made in corners, and what is the reason for those mistakes? What can you do about it? What is the “perfect line”, and how do you find it?
When do you brake, and what is the right speed for a corner?
Reading about cornering is, of course, not enough: you will have to practise, practise, practise.
So, when braking, the advantage of more weight vanishes because of the disadvantage of having to stop that same weight.
But that compensation only applies to the total weight. With a motorcycle, the weight is distributed over two wheels, and that distribution is “not always exactly 50%”.
Keep in mind that a wheel will lock easier when it carries less weight.
This is sometimes felt as counterintuitive: when you ride downward, some motorcycle riders think, the front wheel already has so much responsibility, you shouldn’t fatigue it by using it to brake as well. You’d better use the rear brake. But in reality, it is exactly the opposite!
The most important aspect of riding a motorcycle is looking ahead. Being able to look ahead, being able to notice what’s important, is a vital element of motorcycle riding.
It would seem that that’s something everybody is capable of, but you will notice that there is much to learn about looking ahead.
You ride towards where you look, so to learn cornering well, you will have to look in the right direction. On traffic, you will have to “learn to notice far more” than you usually see.
Whether safety or speed appeals most to you, you will have to work on your looking skills. What’s there to see? How can you practise your capabilities?
If you’re stuck behind another vehicle, the temptation is to sit close behind. Don’t. The closer you are, the less you can see (a penny held close to your eye can blot out the sun).
Hang back a bit and you’ll be able to see much further. But don’t just hang back – move about, and try putting yourself in different positions to see as far ahead as possible. If the road veers left, instead of sitting near the middle of the road, waiting for your overtaking chance to come, try the left gutter to see up the inside of the vehicle in front. Basically, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you can see as far ahead as possible to overtake safely.
Don’t forget that many vehicles are transparent – or at least they have lots of glass you can see through. Next time you’re stuck behind a caravan, “try looking through the rear window”.