Midcorner Correction How-to

An exact solution for fixing a common yet dangerous situation on the street.

Motorcyclist hanging over the centerline
Hanging over the centerline can easily end in disaster. What do you do if you find yourself in this situation? Change your radius. But how?Jeff Allen

Have you ever found yourself up against the yellow line in a left-hand corner with your head and mirror leaning into the oncoming lane? Me too, and I’ve seen it in groups I ride with. We all know the danger of being there, and we’ve all probably felt the discomfort of when a car appears in the other lane. Things are happening fast and the margins are tight; this week’s article discusses a fix that is straightforward but quite exact.

illustration
Please refer to this illustration as you read the story, paying special attention to Point A. Note that the orange “deceleration” can be engine-braking or brake pads against rotors, depending upon your speed and the corner’s radius. Note that the blue “neutral or maintenance throttle” line means the bike is no longer decelerating but it’s not yet accelerating.Robert Martin

Changing Radius

In simple terms, our cornering radius needs to get wider. We need to get off the yellow line. I’ve written before that “Radius Equals MPH” so you might be thinking that a rider on the yellow line in a left-hand corner (in America where we drive on the right side of the road) needs to increase speed so the bike runs wider, but that approach gets tough because we only have about 14 feet of lane to deal with and the corner is often continuing.

Building speed will allow us to run a wider radius (at the same lean angle), but I’ve found that building speed midcorner to get us off the yellow line is risky because we must still finish the corner. I’ve tried it and I’ve done it, but the discomfort levels were off the charts because I had to redirect the bike back into the corner with the throttle open; I had to “get direction.” The front tire wasn’t loaded, front suspension was extended, the bike was headed toward the outside of the lane…awkward and risky.

Slow, Steer, Steer…Then Go

Last week I got sick of the risk involved with being near the yellow line midcorner. Not just sick of it, but mad at myself for being there and unhappy with the fix of accelerating to run wider midcorner and then trying to redirect the accelerating motorcycle before running too wide.

You might ask, “Why are you running so close to the yellow line?” Two answers: One, it was an unknown road and most corners were blind. Two, roadracers work hard to use every inch of pavement and it becomes instinctual to get right up against the apex, which is right up against the yellow line. I’ve seen this when riding on back roads with roadracers like Chris Peris; we want to get right up against the apex and use all the lane on the way out. Good in theory, but hanging hard and soft parts over the centerline will one day prove catastrophic. Roadracers who street ride need to fix this habit and learn to give the centerline more room.

My frustration led me to a fix that gets us off the centerline and significantly lowers the risk when redirecting the now-wider bike back into the corner. Refer to the included drawing, and see that before we move the bike off the centerline, we roll off the throttle to put weight forward, then add bar pressure to move the bike wider but leave the throttle shut until we are redirected back into the corner on the now-wider line.

What Is The Key?

The first roll-off, before you move the bike wider, is not the key. The key to safety and consistency is leaving the throttle shut as you redirect the bike back into the corner, see "A" which points to this critical spot: slowing through the redirect. In fact, you can move your bike wider with throttle or steering, but make sure you are then slowing (decelerating and even a tiny bit of braking if necessary) at point A.

I used to try this redirect with the throttle open or even at neutral or maintenance position (bike is holding its speed), and felt the discomfort of adding lean angle without putting weight forward.

Giving Away The Exit

At Champ school we teach that when a trackday rider misses the apex, he or she must “give away the exit” slightly because a missed apex means the rider must hold lean angle longer and does not have as much asphalt to accelerate into. The track rider who misses the apex, but insists on the same level of acceleration he or she enjoys after a perfect apex, will struggle with rear traction and eventually health issues.

Apply that advice to this street move and you will stay safe and healthy. As you move your bike off the centerline and into safety, be sure you close that throttle to get the bike pointed into the corner again. Give away your speed at point A for the safety benefits of turning your bike with weight forward; don’t worry about the exit until you get the bike repointed.

Turning in and adding lean angle too early on motorcycle
Turning in and adding lean angle too early will put you on the centerline.Jeff Allen

Entry Focus

I wanted to add one thought that will help all of us with this issue of getting up against the centerline too early, and that means before we can see through the corner. We all think about where we turn, but we must also look at the rate at which we turn, the rate at which we add lean angle. Turning in too quickly, adding lean angle too quickly, will put us up against the centerline too early.

Using less bar pressure and moving our heads into the corner more slowly are two great fixes if you find yourself steering your bike too quickly. Our goal is to steer our bike at the rate that best matches the corner, a job that becomes easier as we memorize our favorite roads. But even on unknown roads, controlling our turn-in rate is a first step in controlling our early and midcorner line.

Full Toolbox

I’m writing about this because I’ve done and seen it so often, and believe it leads to riders running wide and off the road. They get in too tight, dart off the centerline and then can’t re-steer the bike back into the corner because the throttle stays open. This specific approach, slowing through the redirect, has fixed the problem for me and I hope it goes into your riding toolbox.

More next Tuesday!