Probably the one thing folk really want to get to grips with is Cornering. (Read Roadcraft p91 - 98)
Your road position will determine how much you can see when you enter a bend. The position which gives you the greatest view depends on whether the bend is a left-hand bend or a right-hand bend - see the diagrams below. To maximise the view around any bend requires the rider to move their machine onto the appropriate course on the approach to the bend - normally the outer line.
Left-hand bends - position yourself towards the left of the centre line so that you get an early view round the bend. However before you adopt this position take cognisance of factors such as:
oncoming traffic and other offside dangers, which require a greater margin of safety
whether your position might mislead other traffic as to your intentions
|For left-hand bends, a position towards the centre of the road gives an earlier view.|
Right-hand bends - position yourself towards the better part of the nearside. Remember that the "better part" takes cognisance of factors such as:
parked vehicles and pedestrians
blind junctions or exits
poor surface conditions or standing water towards the edge of the road.
Give such hazards sufficient clearance... also consider matters such as adverse cambers.
|For right-hand bends, the nearside gives an earlier view into the bend|
Reducing the tightness of the bend
The other thing to consider is reducing the tightness of the curve along which you ride. By moving your bike from one side of your side of the road to the other you can follow a shallower curve and thereby improve stability and reduce the likelihood of losing traction - To illustrate the above point, take a look at this diagram from the 1981 edition of Motorcycle Roadcraft.
| The path you take is different for a
right-hand or a left-hand bend, but always consider safety first. Do
not take a straighter course unless you can see clearly across the
bend. Often you will not be able to do this until the road begins to
In no circumstances must any other Road User be endangered or inconvenienced
through a series of bends (this is probably
one of the most important paragraphs in Motorcycle Roadcraft)
Try to plan your course through a series of bends so that the exit point from the first bend puts you in a good position to enter the second bend. Only link the bends in this way if you can see clearly across them and know that there are no additional hazards. Be careful of approaching the centre line if there is the possibility of oncoming traffic. In planning your course through a series of bends ask yourself, 'Where do I want to be to approach the next bend?' Remember never to sacrifice safety for position.
illustrate the above point, take a look at this diagram from the 1960
edition of Roadcraft.
Over the years I have noticed two common threads running through my debriefs to candidates...
Those who position to the outer line on the approach to the bend and stick to this outer line right around the bend. viz:
to the left of the centre line (or imaginary centreline) around the left-handers
to the better part of the nearside around the right-handers
These riders are then faced with a rapid change of course from say the left of centre line coming out of a left-hander, to get onto course on the better part of the nearside to enter the rapidly approaching right-hander... and vice-versa for a left following a right.
Those who position to the outer line then peel off too early, heading for what they perceive to be the apex of the bend before they have really sussed out the bend or seen next hazard (bend).
Left-handers - coming off the left of centre line towards the nearside too early, effectively reduces the view around the bend and can tighten the bend.
Right-handers - coming off the better part of the nearside towards the centre of the road too early could lead to you encroaching onto the "wrong" side of the road and into conflict with, as yet unseen, oncoming vehicles.
We should aim to position on the outer line on the approach to the bend (bearing in mind the overriding requirement to ensure we do not sacrifice our safety) and remain in this position (on that line) until we have sufficient sight of the next hazard (bend) to allow us to plan to enter this next bend in the most advantageous position - per the above. You have to be able to "read" the bend and to assist in this aspect you require to understand about the "limit point." Understanding what the limit point is and how to interpret how the limit point is or is not "moving" is a skill in its own right. Rather than duplicate Roadcraft one should read pages 91 - 94 along with the accompanying illustrations. However take care when endeavouring to put theory into practise and trying to "chase" the limit point for the first time. Whilst the illustrations and explanatory text on pages 92 & 93 are good, it is better to have things explained out on the road by someone who fully understands this area of motorcycling (your IAM Group's Observers for example) so you can match your speed to the speed at which the limit point moves away from you, provided you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear.
Remember that on the race track the rider does not have oncoming traffic to contend with, they know the corner and know where the actual apex is. Additionally they can see the track surface where they are aiming for, unlike the road rider who has a plethora of obstacles, static and mobile, getting in the way of the perfect view.
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