Countersteering and cornering tips

The main cornering technique on a two-wheeled vehicle is countersteering. In cycling, cornering is very important, especially in criteriums, during long downhills, and when a road race enters a city. By learning the true techniques, you can corner faster and much safer way, and conserve your energy. Having good cornering skills gives you a great advantage while racing.

Countersteering is the technique used by single-track vehicle operators, such as cyclists and motorcyclists, to initiate a turn toward a given direction by momentarily steering counter to the desired direction: “steer left to turn right”, or vice versa.

Countersteering technique
Learn how to turn corners with the countersteering technique.

Countersteering tips

Here are the tips for using the countersteering technique:

  • If necessary, slow down before start cornering. Important! You should not be using the brakes while cornering at all. If you don’t know what speed is right then go a little slower. And if you need to slow down, also gear down one or two clicks, so you can accelerate easier after exiting the corner.
  • Hold the handlebar in the drops.
  • Stop pedaling, and start the turn by putting the outside pedal down (the outside pedal is the right one if you’re making a left turn).
  • Stand on the outside pedal. Press your body weight on it. Pretend you’re trying to break it off. Drop your outside heel below the pedal (pretend to drag your heel on the ground, of course, you will never be able to, but think you are going to).
  • Relax your shoulders and also relax your grip on the bar.
  • Move your butt to the rear of the saddle.
  • Lower your torso along the top tube. Make yourself long to balance your weight along with the bike’s wheelbase.
  • As you enter the turn, push your inside leg against the top tube (in our left turn example, that’s the left leg). Do not stick it out so it’s pointing into the turn as motorcycle road racers do. Pushing your knee into the top tube will automatically turn your hips toward the outside of the turn. This makes the bike dive rapidly into the corner but in total control.
  • Press your outside leg’s inner thigh against the saddle, pushing the bike down and to the inside against the pressure of your weighted outside foot.
  • At the same time, pull gently on the handlebar with the outside hand. The bike will carve smoothly around the corner. It will lean as much as you need it to while your body remains relatively upright.
  • If you need to adjust your line because of gravel or a wet spot, simply relax the outside hand so you aren’t pulling the bar so hard. The bike will straighten up, so you can avoid the obstacle. Once past, increase your pull with the outside hand to lean the bike over again and complete the turn.
  • While cornering, always look past the corner and forward down the course (remember rule #1 of biking: look where you want to go, and the bike will follow; or where do you look, you go there).

A good video about cornering with road bike:

Cornering on a road bike is all about technique, confidence, and grip. This video is all about perfecting every aspect of your technique to maximize your grip.
You’ve probably seen how pro cyclists absolutely fly around corners, especially when they’re descending. And, as cornering fast is about technique rather than fitness, you can corner like – or better than – a pro.
With the basics of confidence and line choice nailed, focus on the smaller aspects, the marginal gains that make up to big differences. Half a second gained in a corner doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s half a second that others have to chase to make up. Think about things like body position, road surface, and counter-steering.

In the video titled “The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike” below, you can learn about the physics behind the countersteering technique.

The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike


M. Özgür Nevres

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.