Basic Dirt Bike Cornering Techniques & Tips

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Being able to corner properly when racing a dirt bike is one of the more important things in a race. It’s not an exact science and there are many different techniques for it. In this post, I’ll cover some basic cornering techniques you can use on your dirt bike.

Being able to corner properly is a crucial element in maintaining your speed during a race. It’s also super important if you’re on the trail so you don’t end up running into a tree or worse, running off a hill.

There are a number of different techniques and it all really depends on what type of corner you’re coming into. There are more advanced techniques you can use on the race track but in this post, I’ll be covering the basics to get you started.

By understanding the basics you’ll be 80% of the way there. You’ll be able to take corners with more speed, have more balance, and exit the corners with more confidence. Once you have the hang of the basics you can add additional moves.

The first thing I did when I was learning how to corner was slowing down. If you’re constantly going full speed into the corners you’ll have a tough time learning the steps and seeing what you’re doing wrong.

Go slow, focus on the steps we’ll talk about, and gradually add speed. It took me a while at first to feel confident enough going fast into the turn but with a bit of practice, it made a huge difference. It’s just like any other race track (bikes, cars, go-karts), you can get through the turn so much faster with the right techniques.

Should You Brake Into Corners For Motocross?

You should start braking before you make the turn. As soon as you start making the turn you don’t need to use the brake anymore. What I was told and what I always think about is that you should only use the brake when you’re going in a straight line. When you turn the wheel you should be off the brake.

The next thing you’ll need to know is that you should use your front brake 80% of the time. I rarely use my back brake and the only thing I really use it for is if I need to slide the back wheel out to straighten out. When you’re coming into a turn you should be using the front brake for the most part.

You should also be shifting down as you go into a turn. If you’re in 4th or 5th gear you’ll have zero power coming out of the turn and you’ll get passed quickly. It’s a bit tricky to get in the habit of braking and shifting at a similar time but after a bit of practice, it’s not that bad at all.

When you come out of the corner you should be in 2nd or 3rd gear. It really depends on the situation but play around with it to see what works best for you. One thing I didn’t realize at first was that you actually don’t have to use the clutch to shift down. This saves a lot of time because it’s one less thing to have to worry about and isn’t going to damage your bike.

How To Corner Properly On A Dirt Bike?

The technique you use to take a corner will all depend on what type of corner you’re going into. Taking a corner on the trail will be different than if you’re on the track with a rut. It’ll also be different if you’re taking a corner that has no ruts and is flat. Let’s jump into each of them:

How to corner on the trail:

  • Come into the corner in a stand-up attack position.
  • Just before you start the turn go into the seated position.
  • Keep your inside leg out and in front of you for support (tight to the bike).
  • Use a steady throttle to keep control.

If you want to get a bit more advanced you can stand up throughout the corner and this will give you a bit more control and also won’t be as hard on your body. Just remember, the more control you have through the corner the faster you’ll go. Here’s a video demo if you’d rather watch that:

How to corner in a rut:

  • Stand up and shift your weight back when you’re slowing down.
  • Sit down and move your weight forward when the turn begins.
  • Raise your inside leg to maintain control.
  • Lean your bike and maintain your throttle throughout the turn. The more you lean the more throttle you need to give.
  • Lean into the handlebars as you exit the turn and move your leg back to the peg as soon as possible.
  • Stand up again.

The biggest mistake people make is they don’t lean enough throughout the turn. This results in them shooting out of the rut, losing speed, and sometimes driving off the track. The second problem people have is not maintaining their throttle through the turn. Your throttle needs to be steady because you can lose control if you speed up or slow down. Here’s a demo video:

How to corner when it’s flat:

  • You’ll want to enter the turn from the outside position (with a rut you can take the inside lane).
  • Be sure to sit down a bit sooner than you would with a rutted turn.
  • Put weight on the outside of the bike (seat & peg) to put pressure on the inside on the tires.
  • Give it just a bit of throttle through the first half, otherwise, you’ll lose traction.
  • As you exit the turn, smoothly give it more throttle but make sure you still have traction.

The mistake most people make with this is that they lose traction and spin out of control. It’s much easier with a rut because you can simply lean, give it gas, and you’ll stay on the ground. When it’s flat it’s much easier to lose grip. That’s why you need to go in slower, put more weight over the bike (not in line with the bike), and be smoother on the throttle. Here’s another video:

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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