Find your balance.
Whilst out on the trails you may have seen a rider or two that corners visibly quicker than everyone else. They will undoubtedly be the most relaxed and fluid looking riders, they will be shifting their weight around the bike with an almost graceful ease whilst the riders they leave behind look almost wooden in comparison. These fluid riders are turning the laws of Physics to their advantage, minimizing sharp movements and getting all available grip from their tyres with the aim of exiting the corner with as much speed as possible.
The fundamentals cornering section will teach you the basic cornering technique to be used on most open bends and corners found out on the trails. Special corners such as berms, off camber turns and switchbacks are found in the Advanced skills section.
Use the racing line.
The racing line makes the corner longer so you don’t have to turn as sharp but almost magically reduces the total distance you travel to get round it.
Start you approach to the corner by moving over to the outside of the trail early. Stay out wide to give yourself a better view of the trail ahead. The tighter the turn the later you shold turn in. You will now be moving towards the inside of the trail getting most of your turn done before hitting the inside of the corner about 2/3rd of the way through, this is called the apex of the turn.
After the apex allow yourself to drift gently away from the inside edge of the trail. Exit the corner on towards the outer edge. Try to make the path of your turn one smooth constant turn.
Cornering is all about exit speed, the faster you exit a corner the less pedalling you have to do to get back up to speed. Exit a corner onto a long straight faster than the rider behind and you’ll be pulling away from them all the way to the next corner.
Start the cornering process as soon as you can see the turn by getting into the attack position to maximize control of the bike. Getting up on the pedals will also give you a better view of the corner ahead to pick out the racing line and how fast you can take the turn but remeber to get low again for the corner. A tight bend with a loose surface needs to be taken far slower than a grippy open corner.
Do any braking required before you start the turn, there is only a limited amount of grip available to the tyres at any one time, braking whilst turning leaves less grip for the tyres to get you round the corner. Brake smoothly, release the lever gently to help stabilize the bike before turning giving better cornering control.
You may not have entered the corner quite as quickly as you would have done braking into the corner or ‘running in hot’ however it will be much easier to hit your line and so maintain speed through the corner giving a much faster exit speed.
Lean the bike over.
Leaning the bike into the corner will help it to turn. Control the angle of the bike by controlling how far towards the inside of the turn you push the handlebars. Turn your head, shoulders and upper body in the direction of the turn to mentally commit to making the bike turn.
Once in the corner, stay off the brakes and let your wheels rool, this allows your tyres to get on with the job of turning the bike around the bend.
Exiting the corner.
By looking well ahead all through the corner you will be able to spot the end of the bend early. Start to straighten up early and let the bike drift to the outer edge of the bend. Time it so that you get to the outer edge just after the bend has finished for sharp bends. On longer sweeping turns you can take an even straighter line start and finishing your turn well before and after the trail does.