THE combination of corners and two wheels is a mystery for many newcomers to cycling and is most likely shrouded by the fear of falling off. You don’t have to be going fast to lose control of the bike – slow turns can be a cause of difficulty for the novice. It may bring some confidence knowing what some of the limitations of the bike you are riding are as this will vary for each style of bike and size.
Other factors that will need to be considered in the determination of the limitations of cornering will be the condition and type of tyres on the bike and surface conditions.
Know “how far can I lean the bike and still pedal before it will fall over or the pedal strike the ground?” Or “when will the tyres lose contact with the road surface and slide out?” If you’re asking these questions, try the following to gauge just what your bike’s capabilities are.
Get the bike and place the crank and pedal closest to the ground. Now, keeping the handle bars straight, lean the bike over until the pedal makes contact with the ground. A quick check on an average road bike indicated that an angle of 28 degrees from the perpendicular was the point in which contact was made.
To reach this type of lean would usually be achieved with relative high speed and a high degree of skill. The reason for keeping the handle bars straight is that with the higher speed cornering, the handle bars are not moved a great deal.
To gauge the amount of tyre in contact with the riding surface lean the bike over and check the amount of tread that remains in contact. Try pushing the bike sideways to make it skid and gain an appreciation of how much grip is maintained.
The other limitation of the bike when it comes to cornering is at very slow speed where the handle bars will be turned and the bike will remain upright to the perpendicular. Get on the bike and lean up against a pillar or post where you feel comfortable. Place the cranks and pedals parallel with the ground so the feet are in contact with the pedals in the normal riding position. Turn the handle bars to the left or right so the front wheel will turn past the protruding foot and see whether contact is made. When pedalling and turning the handle bars there is a point where your foot can come in contact with the wheel and act as a brake which could result in a fall.
While these tips may not make a change to your abilities they could well place your mind at rest while you work on the other skills required for safe smooth cornering.
See you on the road soon God willing