When to use which turningtechnique?

In cycling, there are different ways to take a turn.
Now, which technique do you use for what curve?

Follow your head/horse and carriage
If you ride at low speed and you want to turn, you cannot do that with body and bike in a sloping position. You would fall. You turn with body and bike upright, turning your steer and turning your head.

Classicklassieke bocht turns
Classic turns are often used in a gentle curve in the track, which you’ll have to take often, such as in a criterion. At some point, you know exactly how fast you can go through the turn and how much you should bank. And even which one you can peddle through, and which you you cannot.


Use the skiturn in sharper turns. Even if the curve extends farther than you expected, you can use it to provide additional pressure to keep the curve. Especially in a descent that can come in handy :).
In courses where you encounter curves only once and so you do not know them well, you can make adjustments faster with the skiturn.

The skiturn is more dynamic, the classic bend is more static. Try to feel how fast you can make corrections while take a curve with the different techniques.
If wetness, gravel or sand on the road it is safer to take the curve into three or more parts. On the good sections, you buckle into the V as much as you’re comfortable with, on the sections with potential slip hazards you make the V a bit less pronounced, taking the section less sharply, thereby decreasing the forces on the bike and lessening the chances of the bike breaking out.

In the video of the descent into Grindelwald, Tour de Suisse  2011, you see such a correction from Cunego:

With your knee, you can shift your weight quickly, allowing you to make quick adjustments. You see it a lot in tours as the Tour de France, where the curves are not known.

The difference between the classic bend and skiturn is elaborated upon in: http://www.fiets.nl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1757
Also included are comparisons with skiing, skating and motorbike racing. In Dutch.
Of course you need to see the classic Cancellara descent, with beautiful music of Mozart.

Crashes and various cornering techniques
It is difficult to determine which cornering technique works better to avoid a crash. You’d have to test, but how? So you have to do with the analysis of real-live crashes. From near-crashes, much greater in number, you can also learn a lot. Just do not stop with: “Phew that was close, such bad luck, just that car right there”, etc., but try to learn from it. Ask yourself “What could I have done differently and better in a similar situation?”, and ‘How do I master such a response better?”

In Crashes there are a few videos of crashes from professional races with an analysis of what (possibly) went wrong, and what the rider could possibly do better to lower the change of crashing.

See also learn the difference between unconscious and conscious: Learning

The physics of taking turns

Cornering on the racing bike involves three objectives:
bochten natuurkundig• Handling the centrifugal force
• Control and carrying as much speed as possible at the exit
• Make quick adjustments

In this, the following factors play a role:
• bank angle with respect to the road surface.
• your body’s center of gravity (BCG) in the horizontal plane, just above or far away from the point of contact of the wheels with the road surface.
• The height of your BCG relative to the road surface.

For a curve with radius (r) and bicycle speed (v), the bank angle (theta) of the fixed center of gravity is given by: theta = arctan (v ^ 2 / g). Given this inclination, you can freely vary the relative position of the bike and rider.

You can make quick corrections on your line by playing with the position of your body. This can be done by pushing your knee into the turn. You can also make small adjustments quickly by buckling to a greater or lesser extend with the ski-turn. In the video about Cancellara you can see this clearly.
If you ride a curve with the ski-trun you can make minor corrections faster than with the classic turn.

By the kinks in the skihouding less mass goes sharply through the bend, but a part of it takes a wider curve. Thus, you need to compensate less centrifugal force.

To lean out with your upper body, you get more perpendicular pressure on the front wheel and therefore more control. This can compensate for the horizontal force to the outside as a result of the centrifugal forces. This reduces the chance of slipping. This enhances the effect of pressing down the outside of pedal.

When entering a curve you use consciously or unconsciously ‘to sweep’, ie first to send before you “fall” to the desired side. See Curve Work

Different turningtechniques

Follow your head/horse and carriage
If you take a short turn at a low speed, for example, you turn on a bike path, you steer with your head and shoulders. You look behind you and pull your bike along through the bend. Like a horse and carriage. Body and bike are upright. In a sloping position you would fall aside, because of lack of speed.

At higher speeds, you can take a curve roughly in two different ways, with the classic turn and the skiturn.

Classic turns
Most people ride a curve with their body and bicycle in one line. Often with the head and shoulders pushed slightly into the turn. Body and bike are hanging diagonally in one plane in the corner. The sharper the curve, the sharper the banking. This is the classic turn.
You can drop your bike into a turn in the following way. For example, when you need to take a left turn, you steer first a little to the right and then fall to the left.

Another approach is the skiturn’. Then there is a kink, a V, between your abdomen plus bike, and your torso.

How to perform the skiturn?

• You press with the inside of the thigh the saddle in the direction of the curve
For some, it helps to focus on your obliques.

• Before you take the turn, you put pressure on the inside handle bars and you pull the outside bars
Bicycle and abdomen are being pushed into the curve, the torso is pushed out of the curve. This yields a V-like position like in skiing. The bike is banking more than in the classic turn, so the radius is smaller and you can take a sharper turn. The angle between the center of mass, the line between the two contact points of the wheels, and the ground determine how sharp the turn is.

Because your upper body is on the outside of the bike, outside of the wheels, as it were, you get an inwardly directed force on the front wheel so that there is less chance that the front wheel will break out.

A nice demonstration is:

• Inner arm and outer leg press down diagonally
If you pay attention it feels beautiful. It’s very different from a sprint, or climbing out of the saddle, where you just press on one side and pull on the other side.

Wringing bends
If you steer more from the shoulders than from the hips, the bike stays more upright. This makes the bend wider and it is wringing to get through the bend.

Roglic rides fast descents, but it is not very smooth and easy to control. Working more with the hip, pushing the saddle into the bend instead of the shoulders makes the bend easier.

Fine-tuning is done by compressing more or less in the V-position or by pushing your knee less or more into the curve.

Riding corners is a matter of doing and practicing a lot. Many people deny themselves the opportunity to learn to make good turns because they take the turns too slow and square. Use every turn to ride it tight and smooth. Special exercises are for example: On a bike path with white lines in the middle or a place where you can place a number of water bottles you can practice well on the two styles. Not stopping with the paddling and hands closer to eachother on the steer make it even more difficult.

See also: Practise cornering

See also: When to use which cornering technique?

Taking sharp turns

Cornering on the racing bike is harder than driving straight ahead. But there is much to gain, and as you get the hang of it, it’s also fun to do. But how do you ride a good curve, quickly and safely?

Down the drops
You can ride with hands on the hoods, but if you go fast and the curve is sharp, you have more control with your hands down the drops. (You need to exercise this regularly to be able to ride comfortable in this position.)

Keep your outside leg down and your inside leg up.
This is to ensure that you do not hit the ground, but above all to push the bike inward as the bicycle is pushed outward by centrifugal forces. Especially if it is (possibly) slippery, it is safer.


Look in the direction of where you want to go
Look forward in the direction where you want to go, not just right before you on the ground. By looking at where you want to go, you are riding a smoother line.
If your view of the road is obstructed by vegetation or rocks, you cannot fully see through a curve. You then look as far forward as possible to the outside of the road. That is the furthest away.

handen onderin afdalen

good line in a curve is: outside-inside-outside

You go in the corner wide, move to the inside of the curve and exit wide again. In this way, the curve is less sharp and you can ride more easily and faster through it. If you’re riding on the (imaginary) center line of the road, the turn is less sharp. Do make sure there’s no traffic behind you. Or any oncoming traffic.

See also: Using the full width of the road http://www.smartercycling.cc/think-look-act-ahead/over-de-as-van-de-weg-rijden/

The descent by Roglic in the Tour de France, stage 17 is a example of more wringing than smooth decending.

Steering too much from the shoulders, body center of gravity (saddle) too far to the outside. Therefore he is wringing a bit and he is drifting out the curve. It seems that at the end of the curve, he has lost a lot of speed.
Also he takes the corner early, therefore he goes to the inside early, so the corner gets longer/rounder and therefore he comes out too wide.
This despite the fact that the descent of the Galibier is quite easy.
Remarkably, the commentators are talking about ‘fantasic descending skills’ and ‘an absolute terrific decent of the Galibier’. Perhaps it’s a matter of language, they speak more in superlatives. In any case, I do see his decend differently.
Interesting is an interview in which Roglic was asked whether his former career as a ski-jumper had offered him an advantage for descending. Yes, with regards to speed (up to  100 km per hour), but no further was his answer.
For ex-skiers, you often see that their cornering technique on the bicycle seems to benefit from their former carreer.
See also: http://www.smartercycling.cc/corners/aandachtspunten/

Steer with your weight more than with your steering wheel
By moving your weight to the inside of the turn you steer easier and safer than by turning  the handle bars. To move your weight, press on the saddle with the inside of your thigh.

sturen met gewicht

See also: the physics of taking turns

Keep your weight down
You may have a tendency to raise your torso in a curve. Practice to suppress this natural, but not very sensible, reflex.

Race the Ridge road cycling stage race in Maple Ridge, BC sponsored by Local Ride Bike Shop

Braking should be done before you enter a turn, and as late as possible. And hard enough so that you do not need to brake much in the turn itself. The front brake is the more efficient one.
In a turn, you can, if necessary, do some additional braking, but please only with the rear brake. If you lock your front wheel, you will almost certainly fall. Lock your rear wheel, chances are you immediately release the brake. In general, you’ll then have a lucky escape. And because the rear wheel slips slightly outwards, you’ve positioned yourself more favorably in the corner :). Mountain bikers and down hillers do consciously make use of this effect.


Slipping of the rear wheel as a result of the brakes locking the wheel, in general, gives fewer problems than when the rear wheel slipps out due to having the pressure on the inside pedal rather than on the outside pedal.

Taking turns in parts
In a part of a bend, the risk of slipping may be greater than in the rest of the bend. That may be due to sand, gravel, water, a white line you do not trust, a pot hole, or the like. Then, you are to partition that bend. In the good parts you take the turn sharp, and in the questionable parts less sharp. Especially with the skiing technique that will go easy. You push the bike more sharply (or less sharply) into the turn. This can also be achieved by moving your inside knee.
photo / video (to make yet)

See also: different turningtechniques

Starting to peddle again
On the exit, you can gently start pedaling, but remain in the saddle, so that the rear wheel does not break out. Only when you have straightened your bike, you can get out of the saddle.
photo / video (to make yet)
If you start to peddle too early in the turn, or get out of the saddle before you’ve straightened the bike, the pressure counteracting the centrifugal forces may be too small and your rear wheel may slip away.

After the bend
When exiting a turn, there is normally more distance between the riders. That’s a good time to check where everyone is. Or you want to play nice, for example, in a team time trial, let the others come back without much effort. If you want to put the hammer down, this is a moment to give some extra gas :).

See also: different turningtechniques

Practice cornering?

klassieke bocht2On the road bike you ride through turns far much less than you ride in a straight line. Therefore we practice cornering much less, while good cornering is much harder than riding straight ahead :).
Especially in the corners, there’s a lot to gain.
Good cornering is also nice for your buddies in a group ride. If your cornering skills leave much to be desired, you lose a lot of speed, but also need to accelerate much more after the corner. Moreover, your drop of speed may sometimes be unexpected, and you scare your buddies behind you. If you ride through a corner nice and smoothly, you will please the ones behind you.
Cornering in a descent is also to be learned, either consciously or unconsciously.

To peddle or not to peddle?
Have a l
ook when you’re out in a group ride how everybody takes a corner. Unwittingly, most let their speed drop a lot in front of an upcoming corner and stop peddling for too long. There is a better, faster and safer way! Try to learn how long you can keep pedaling.

How do I actually ride a turn on the road bike?
Do practice cornering. Find a car park or a course. And try it out. Which line do you choose? When do you brake and how hard? What is your posture? How long do you keep peddling? What angles can you ride? How do you actually steer? Where do you look? It’s fun to discover what you do and what you don’t do. And thereby your skills will increase.
You can tape a matchbox under the pedals. If you hit the ground, it will be less intense compared to when you do hit the ground with the pedal itself.
By the way, if you tap the pedal to the floor it’s usually without (much) harm. And after a few times you don’t get scared as badly :).
photo / video (to make yet)

Bike agility is very helping for cornering. An exercise in riding skills, for example, is setting your water bottle on the ground while riding, and pick it up again on the next pass.

bochten oefenen



To ride along a row of water bottles provides a great sense of cornering. These bottles, which you have obviously already put down while riding :), can be put increasingly closer together or further apart. This would provide a different way of improving your riding skills. Steering more from shoulder / bars in short turns and more from the hips / saddle in longer turns. Try it out.


See how this rider steers these short turns from his shoulders, the seat remains relatively in the same position, and even in the curve he pushes on the paddles to make extra speed.
Slaloming you can do easily during a ride. On a road or on a bike path with an interrupted center-line. Go slaloming around it. Vary the speed and length of the slalom, for instance take three bars per curve, two bars per curve, and so on. Notice how you make those curves. Do you steer by moving the bars or by shifting your weight? Do you steer with your hips or your shoulders (or both)? Do you move your weight in the forward/backward direction? Do you press your front wheel on the half of the curve? And then again do you move your weight backwards? Do you accelerate? Will there be rhythm in your movements in the successive corners? Move your hands. On the brake levers. Down the drops. Tight along the stem, as in the movie. Then you learn more and more to steer by shifting your weight.

In this longer turns the rider steers by shifting his weight from the hip / saddle.

You can practice this also on a city bike or mountain bike. If you practice on other bikes, you ‘ll notice these react differently when taking curves, and you’ll discover what you actually do. As a result, your cornering skills will improve.

See also the difference in unconscious and conscious learning: Learning

The foregoing is all about examining how you ride your curves and discover what works and what does not work. Of course, there are some tried and tested set of rules about the way you can corner best.