Cornering Tips and Techniques For MTB & Road Cycling

a man riding a mountain bike through a forest
Table of Contents

As a passionate rider, I know how thrilling it is to hit the road with your bike. And nothing beats the feeling of mastering your cornering skills and taking curves with ease. But let’s face it, cornering can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the game. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help you master cornering tips and techniques, so you can ride safely and with confidence.

Throughout this article, we’ll cover everything from body positioning to braking techniques, and line choice to exit speed. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting, these tips will help you take your cornering skills to the next level.

So, buckle up your helmet, hop on your bike, and let’s dive into the world of cornering.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cornering is a crucial skill in mountain biking and road cycling
  • The correct body position is key to effective cornering
  • Finding the right balance between cornering speed and maximum traction is essential
  • Braking techniques can help improve your cornering skills
  • Choosing the best line for cornering is crucial for maintaining control
  • Advanced techniques can help you ride faster and with more control
  • Exit speed is an important factor in safe and effective cornering

The Importance of Cornering in Mountain Biking

As mountain bikers, we love the thrill of the ride, the rush of the wind and the seemingly never-ending trails that stretch out before us. But there’s more to this adrenaline-fueled activity than meets the eye. To truly enjoy the experience, we need to master the art of cornering.

Cornering is one of the most essential skills for any mountain biker, regardless of their level of experience. It allows you to maintain control and speed through tight turns, navigate tricky terrain, and ultimately, enjoy the ride. By improving your cornering technique, you’ll have a smoother ride, get more out of your bike and feel more confident on the trails.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out, mastering cornering tips and techniques is crucial to your success as a mountain biker. By understanding the importance of cornering and implementing the right techniques, you’ll become a more skilled and confident rider, ready to take on any challenge the mountain throws your way.

Mastering Body Position for Effective Cornering

Body positioning is crucial for effective cornering on a mountain bike. The right position will help you maintain control, maximize traction, and ride with confidence. Here are some tips on getting your body position just right for successful cornering:

Tip Description
Look ahead Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, not where you are.
Bend your knees Lower your center of gravity by bending your knees, which will help you maintain better control.
Lean your bike As you approach a corner, lean your bike into the turn while keeping your body upright. This will help you maintain traction and control.
Shift your weight Shift your weight to the outside pedal and place your outside knee against the top tube, which will help you maintain balance and control.
Use your hips Use your hips to initiate turns by turning your hips in the direction of the turn. This will help you maintain the correct body position and maximize control.

Remember, your body is your biggest asset when it comes to cornering on a mountain bike. By following these tips and practicing your technique, you’ll soon master the art of effective cornering.

Understanding Cornering Speed and Maximum Traction

Cornering speed is a crucial aspect of any rider’s skill set. It is the balance between speed and control that enables bikers to maintain their grip while cornering. When you approach a corner, it’s important to understand how to maintain maximum traction so you can navigate safely without losing control.

To achieve maximum traction, you need to distribute your weight effectively. When cornering, your weight should shift towards the outer footpeg, and you need to apply more pressure to the outside of the tire. This will help to maintain grip as you lean into the turn, allowing you to maintain your speed.

One of the best ways to improve cornering speed and maximum traction is to practice. As you become more comfortable with your bike, you can begin to experiment with different techniques and approaches, finding what works best for you. It’s important to remember that every bike is different, and every rider has their unique style. Practice will help you fine-tune your skills and develop your confidence as a rider.

Strategies to Improve Cornering Speed

Here are some tips to help you improve your cornering speed while maintaining control:

  • Look where you want to go: keep your eyes fixed on the exit of the turn to help you maintain your line.
  • Slow in, fast out: start the corner slow and gradually increase speed as you exit.
  • Brake before the turn: avoid braking while cornering as it reduces traction and stability.
  • Lean into the turn: this will help distribute your weight towards the outer footpeg.
  • Apply throttle smoothly: accelerate gradually as you exit the corner to maintain stability and maximize traction.

By using these techniques, you’ll be able to master cornering speed and maximum traction, enabling you to navigate corners with greater precision and control.

Techniques for Cornering in Flat Turns

Flat corners might seem easy to conquer, but they can be tricky to maneuver, especially when it comes to maintaining traction on the rear tire. Here are some tips and techniques to improve your cornering skills in flat turns.

Approaching the Turn

Before entering the turn, make sure you have reduced your speed and are in the correct gear. You should approach the turn on the outside edge of the trail or road, so that you have more space to take the turn.

Body Positioning

Your body position is crucial in flat turns. As you enter the turn, shift your weight to the outer foot and lean your bike into the turn. Keep your inside foot up, and your outside foot down to maintain balance.

Maximizing Traction on the Rear Tire

As you lean into the turn, focus on maintaining traction on the rear tire. To do this, keep your weight evenly distributed on both wheels and look ahead to anticipate the turn’s trajectory. Applying a little bit of pressure on the rear brake can also help maintain traction throughout the turn.

It is also important to choose the right line as you enter the turn. Aim for the inside of the turn, where the terrain is usually smoother and more compact. This will help your bike maintain traction and speed as you exit the turn.

By mastering these techniques, you will be able to take flat turns with more confidence, control, and speed.

Utilizing Braking Techniques for Better Cornering

When it comes to cornering on your bike, proper braking technique can make all the difference. It’s important to know when to brake, how to modulate your braking, and how to maintain control while cornering.

One of the keys to effective braking is the use of your brake levers. Your front brake provides the majority of your stopping power, so it’s important to use it wisely. Always apply your front brake gradually to avoid locking your front wheel and causing a crash.

When approaching a turn, it’s important to begin braking early to reduce your speed. As you enter the turn, release your brakes gradually to allow your bike to flow through the corner. You can also use your rear brake to help control your speed and maintain traction.

Another important aspect of braking is understanding weight distribution. When you brake, your weight shifts forward, causing your rear wheel to lift slightly. This can reduce traction on your rear tire, making it more difficult to maintain control. To counteract this, shift your weight back slightly as you apply your brakes. This will help keep your rear tire in contact with the ground, improving traction and control.

Remember, effective braking is all about finding the right balance. Too much braking can result in loss of traction and control, while too little braking can cause you to enter the turn too fast. Experiment with different braking techniques to find what works best for you.

By mastering braking techniques, you can improve your cornering skills and ride with more confidence and control on any terrain.

Breaking Bad Habits: Common Mistakes in Cornering Technique

When it comes to cornering on a bike, bad habits can be difficult to break, but it’s essential for improving your cornering technique and overall riding experience. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Braking too late: This mistake can cause you to lose control in a turn and potentially crash. Try to brake before entering the turn to maintain control.
  • Leaning too much: Over-lean can cause your tires to lose traction and slide out. Keep your body position in check, and don’t lean too much into the turn.
  • Looking down: Keep your vision up and ahead to anticipate turns and obstacles. Looking down can cause you to miss critical information about your surroundings.
  • Incorrect gear selection: Selecting the wrong gear can lead to stalling or losing momentum in a turn. Make sure you’re in the right gear before entering the turn.

Overcoming these bad habits may take some practice, but it’s worth the effort. By improving your cornering technique, you can ride with more confidence, control, and safety.

The Art of Choosing the Best Line

Choosing the best line is an integral part of mastering your cornering technique. It can make a huge difference in your overall speed and control, especially when navigating technical terrain. Here are some tips to help you choose the best line:

  1. Assess the terrain: Take a moment to survey the terrain before entering a corner. Look for any obstacles, rocks or roots that may affect your approach. Consider factors such as the angle of the turn and the surface conditions, and determine the best line to take based on this information.
  2. Find the smoothest path: Look for the smoothest line through the corner, avoiding any rough patches or obstacles. This will help maintain your momentum and speed, while minimizing the risk of losing control.
  3. Maximize control: Choose a line that allows you to maintain control throughout the corner. Avoid lines that require sudden changes in direction or speed, and focus on lines that allow for a smooth transition through the turn.

Remember, the best line may not always be the shortest or most obvious one. It is important to assess the terrain and find the line that maximizes control and speed, while staying within your comfort zone.

Mastering Cornering on Road Bikes

While cornering is an essential skill for all types of cycling, road bikes present a unique set of challenges that require specific techniques. As someone who loves road cycling, I’ve learned that mastering cornering on a road bike takes practice and patience. Here are some tips and techniques that have helped me improve my cornering skills on a road bike.

Body Positioning

Proper body positioning is key to effective cornering on a road bike. You want to maintain a lower center of gravity and distribute your weight evenly between your wheels. When approaching a turn, shift your weight slightly to the outside pedal and lean your bike towards the inside of the turn. Keep your elbows bent and your eyes looking ahead, not down.

Another important aspect of body positioning is keeping your upper body stable and relaxed. Hunching over or tensing up can throw off your balance and ultimately affect your control of the bike.

Tire Pressure Considerations

Tire pressure is another crucial factor to consider when cornering on a road bike. You want to ensure that your tires have enough grip to maintain traction while cornering. However, too much pressure can cause your bike to bounce or skid, making it difficult to maintain control.

I recommend checking your bike’s recommended tire pressure and adjusting it accordingly based on your weight and riding style. Experiment with different pressures to find the sweet spot that works best for you.

Maximizing Traction on Different Road Surfaces

Different road surfaces can affect your traction and cornering ability. For example, wet roads can be slippery, while gravel or sand can be challenging to navigate.

To maximize your traction, I suggest adapting your technique based on the road surface. On wet surfaces, reduce your speed and approach turns more cautiously. On loose or uneven surfaces, bike handling skills, such as weight shifting, become more important to maintain control.

Practice Makes Perfect

Ultimately, improving cornering skills on a road bike requires practice. Find a safe and quiet area to practice your technique, and gradually push yourself to take on more challenging turns and higher speeds.

Remember, cornering is a complex skill that takes time to master. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate improvement. Keep practicing and experimenting with different techniques until you find what works best for you.

Fine-Tuning Your Skills: Advanced Cornering Techniques

Now that you have mastered the basics of cornering, it’s time to take your skills to the next level. Advanced cornering techniques allow you to increase your speed and traction, giving you more control in the corners. Let’s take a look at some of the advanced techniques you can use to improve your cornering skills further.

Generate More Speed with Late Apexing

One of the most effective ways to ride faster through a corner is to use the late apexing technique. This technique involves delaying the turn-in point and riding towards the outside of the corner before turning in towards the apex. This allows you to carry more speed through the corner and exit faster, giving you an advantage over other riders.

Brake Deep and Carry More Speed into the Corner

Braking deeper and carrying more speed into the corner can help you minimize your time in the corner and maximize your speed. However, this technique requires practice, as it involves a risk of losing control if applied incorrectly. Remember to gradually increase your speed while keeping the weight distribution steady.

Improve Traction with the “Push and Pull” Technique

The “push and pull” technique involves pushing down on the inside handlebar while pulling up on the outside handlebar. This shifts your weight towards the inside of the corner, increasing your traction and control.

Use Body Positioning to Maximize Control

Proper body positioning is crucial in advanced cornering techniques. By leaning your torso towards the inside of the corner while keeping your outside leg extended, you can shift your center of gravity and increase your control.

Master the Art of Trail Braking

Trail braking involves releasing the brakes gradually as you enter the corner, allowing you to maintain control while carrying more speed. However, this technique requires a high level of skill and practice, and it’s important to master the basics of braking and cornering before attempting this advanced technique.

By incorporating these advanced cornering techniques into your riding style, you can ride faster, gain more control, and continuously improve your cornering skills. Remember to practice and push yourself gradually to develop your skills safely and effectively.

Troubleshooting: Common Cornering Challenges and Solutions

Cornering can be a challenging skill to master, even for experienced riders. Here are some common challenges you may encounter while cornering, along with solutions and tips for overcoming them:

Problem: Losing Control at High Speeds

When cornering at high speeds, it can be easy to lose control and veer off your line. This can be a dangerous situation that requires quick reflexes and a calm demeanor.

Solution: Slow Down and Look Ahead

If you find yourself losing control in a high-speed corner, the first thing to do is slow down. Focus on looking ahead to the exit point of the turn, rather than fixating on the curve itself. This will help you maintain control and stay on your line.

Problem: Poor Traction on Loose or Gravelly Surfaces

Loose or gravelly surfaces can make it difficult to maintain traction while cornering, leading to slips and slides that can cause crashes.

Solution: Adjust Your Speed and Technique

When riding on loose or gravelly surfaces, it’s important to adjust your speed and technique to compensate for the reduced traction. Slow down before entering a turn, and use a wider line to maintain your balance. Shift your weight and use targeted braking to maintain control and minimize skids.

Problem: Uneven Terrain Causes Handling Issues

When riding on bumpy or uneven surfaces, it can be challenging to maintain your balance and control while cornering.

Solution: Stay Loose and Use Your Legs

To counteract the effects of uneven terrain, try to stay loose and use your legs to absorb the bumps and jolts. Keep your weight centered and use targeted braking to control your speed. Look ahead and plan your line carefully to avoid rough patches and obstacles.

Problem: Oversteering or Understeering

Oversteering or understeering can cause you to lose control and veer off your line while cornering.

Solution: Adjust Your Body Position and Speed

If you find yourself oversteering, try adjusting your body position and slowing down slightly. If you’re understeering, try increasing your speed and shifting your weight to the outside of the turn. Practice finding the right balance between speed and control to improve your cornering skills.

Problem: Poor Body Positioning

Poor body positioning can make it difficult to maintain balance and control while cornering, leading to crashes and falls.

Solution: Practice Good Form

Proper body positioning is crucial for effective cornering. Keep your weight centered and low, with your outside foot and knee pointed toward the turn. Use your arms to maintain balance and control, keeping them relaxed and loose. Practice good form and body positioning to improve your cornering technique and minimize crashes.

The Importance of Exit Speed in Cornering

As I’ve mentioned earlier, cornering is all about finding the perfect balance between speed and control. While entering a turn smoothly and maintaining traction throughout is crucial, it’s equally important to focus on exit speed in order to gain the maximum advantage.

Exit speed is the speed at which you leave the turn and begin pedaling again. It’s imperative to maintain a good exit speed, as it can help you gain momentum and cover more ground in a shorter span of time. However, it’s important to note that exiting a turn too fast can throw off your balance and cause you to lose control of the bike.

There are various ways in which you can improve your exit speed while still maintaining control, such as:

  • Braking late: Instead of braking early and coasting through the turn, try braking just before the turn to maximize entry speed and maintain momentum throughout the turn.
  • Carving the turn: Similar to skiing or snowboarding, try carving through the turn by leaning your bike and body towards the inside of the turn. This can help you maintain speed while still keeping control.
  • Accelerating smoothly: Once you’ve passed the apex of the turn, smoothly accelerate out of it. Avoid sudden jerks or excessive force on the pedals, as this can cause your rear wheel to lose traction.

Remember, exit speed is not just about speed; it’s also about maintaining control and maximizing traction. With practice and patience, you can master the art of exit speed and enhance your overall cornering skills.

Pushing Limits: Taking Cornering to the Next Level

As a rider, once you’ve mastered the basics of cornering, it’s natural to want to push yourself to achieve more speed, control, and finesse. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and techniques that can help you take your cornering skills to the next level.

One area to focus on is generating more speed through corners. To accomplish this, it’s important to stay focused and committed to the turn, maintaining your line and minimizing any unnecessary movements or adjustments. You may also benefit from experimenting with different body positions and weight distributions to find the optimal approach for each type of turn.

Another key element to consider is maximizing traction. By ensuring that your tires are properly inflated and choosing the right tire for the terrain, you can improve your grip and control in even the most challenging corners. Additionally, mastering the art of trail braking can help you slow down just enough to maintain control while still carrying speed through the turn.

One often overlooked aspect of cornering is the importance of visualizing your line and trajectory before you even enter the corner. By mentally visualizing the turn and its various elements, you can anticipate challenges, adjust your approach, and maintain control throughout the entire turn.

Ultimately, the key to taking your cornering skills to the next level is to remain focused, committed, and willing to experiment with new techniques and approaches. By continuing to push yourself and explore new possibilities, you can ride faster, with more control, and with a greater sense of joy and satisfaction.


Cornering is an integral part of any rider’s experience, whether on a mountain bike or a road bike. By mastering cornering tips and techniques, you can enhance your grip on the bike, improve your control while riding, and ultimately enjoy a safer and smoother ride overall.

Remember, the key to effective cornering is maintaining control and maximizing traction. By perfecting your body positioning, braking techniques, and line selection, you can improve your cornering speed while still maintaining control.

Don’t be afraid to push your limits and try new techniques. With practice and dedication, you can take your cornering to the next level, riding faster, with more control and confidence.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, make a commitment to continuously improve your cornering skills. Your bike, your grip, and your ride will thank you for it.


Q: What is the importance of cornering in mountain biking?

A: Cornering is crucial in mountain biking as it allows riders to maintain control, navigate tight turns, and maximize speed. Mastering cornering skills can enhance your overall riding experience and improve your performance on challenging terrains.

Q: How do I position my body for effective cornering?

A: To position your body for effective cornering, lean your bike while keeping your upper body upright. Shift your weight to the outside pedal and maintain a balanced position over the bike. This helps in maintaining traction and stability while cornering.

Q: How can I improve my cornering speed without losing control?

A: Finding the right balance between cornering speed and maximum traction is crucial. To improve your cornering speed, focus on your body positioning, look ahead in the direction of the turn, and gradually increase your speed as you gain confidence. Practicing on different terrains will also help improve your cornering skills.

Q: What techniques can I use for cornering in flat turns?

A: When cornering in flat turns, approach the turn wide, maintain a low and centered body position, and shift your weight to the inside pedal. This helps maximize traction on the rear tire and allows you to carve through the turn smoothly.

Q: How can braking techniques help in better cornering?

A: Proper braking techniques play a crucial role in better cornering. It is important to brake before entering the turn, modulate your braking to avoid skidding, and release the brakes gradually as you exit the turn. This ensures better control and stability while cornering.

Q: What are some common mistakes in cornering technique?

A: Common mistakes in cornering technique include braking too late or during the turn, not looking ahead, leaning the bike too much, and not maintaining balance. It’s important to be aware of these mistakes and work on correcting them to improve your overall cornering skills.

Q: How do I choose the best line for cornering?

A: Choosing the best line for cornering involves analyzing the terrain, finding the smoothest path, and maximizing control. Look for the apex of the turn and aim to take a wide entry for better positioning and a smooth exit.

Q: Are there any specific tips for cornering on road bikes?

A: When cornering on road bikes, ensure your body is in a low and aerodynamic position. Keep your outside pedal down and maintain a light grip on the handlebars. Additionally, consider the tire pressure and adapt to different road surfaces for better traction.

Q: What are some advanced cornering techniques?

A: Advanced cornering techniques include leaning the bike more aggressively, initiating a controlled slide, and using your body weight to generate more speed. These techniques require practice, but they can help riders ride faster and maintain better control in corners.

Q: What are some common cornering challenges and solutions?

A: Common cornering challenges include understeering, oversteering, and losing balance. To overcome these challenges, focus on body positioning, weight distribution, and practicing proper braking techniques. Gradually building confidence and experience will help improve cornering technique.

Q: Why is exit speed important in cornering?

A: Exit speed plays a crucial role in cornering as it determines how quickly you can accelerate and maintain control after exiting a turn. By optimizing your exit speed through proper technique, you can carry momentum and maintain better overall speed.

Q: How can I take cornering to the next level?

A: To take cornering to the next level, push your limits by gradually increasing speed, practicing advanced techniques, and continuously improving your skills. Focus on riding faster, gaining more control, and exploring new possibilities in cornering.


In conclusion, mastering cornering tips and techniques is vital for safer and smoother road trips. By understanding the importance of body positioning, speed, and line selection, riders can improve their cornering skills, enhance their overall riding experience, and feel more confident on their bikes.

About The Author

daniel in queenstown with mountain bike

Want To Receive Exclusive Offers, Tips & Freebies?