I recently switched from a flat bar hybrid type bike to a drop bar endurance bike. I have noticed huge improvements in speed and climbing, but I feel like I lost a lot of confidence in handling. Granted, I am going much faster when I take turns, but I am afraid that I'm going to lay my bike down at higher speeds. Part of this comes from going from a 700x42c semi knobby tire to a 700x28c slick. Is this normal? What can I do to improve my confidence short of taking a turn too fast and laying my bike down? How do I know I'm taking a turn too fast?

Technique: as I'm heading downhill, I start to plot my line. I swing wide to set my approach. As I enter the turn I put my inside foot up and slightly point my knee. My outside foot is down and I press my weight down on the outside. I can hold my line until right before the apex, then I feel the need to let go. It's something about the extra effort needed to hold the line through the apex that really scares me. This is while moving at between 30 and 40mph.

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    velominati.com/the-rules/#64 says "Cornering confidence increases with time and experience. This pattern continues until it falls sharply and suddenly."
    – Criggie
    Jun 8 '17 at 6:00
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    You'll find that the narrower bar makes downhills feel faster - I go down a road faster on the old knobbly MTB with a wide bar than on the fast roadbike with drops, mostly because the wide bar is a lot more stable at speed.
    – Criggie
    Jun 8 '17 at 6:01
  • Can you expand on your cornering technique ?
    – Criggie
    Jun 8 '17 at 6:01
  • I know rule #64 pretty well, and it's that sudden and sharp drop that I'm worried about. I gave up my car a few years ago, so falling at high speeds would be catastrophic, both physically and financially.
    – CRoberts
    Jun 8 '17 at 12:57
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    It's entirely possible that I am doing it wrong. I'm looking for advice to corner better.
    – CRoberts
    Jun 10 '17 at 22:01

The bike goes where your eyes are looking. I have no idea why this works, but it is amazing when applied.

The key is to always be looking as far ahead through the corner as possible, when you start turning in you should be looking at the apex, once you have reached the apex you should already be looking past the exit. I've passed cars and motorcycles and taken many downhill KOMs using this technique, while on 23c tires! enter image description here

If you watch any motorcycle race or go to any motorcycle class/school, their eyes are always ahead of the curve their on. This takes a lot practice to get down especially when your cornering confidence isn't very high.

enter image description here

I have a very similar cornering technique to what you described and I have the same problem you described, where I can make it to the apex just fine, but need to bail out when I get there, this is because I haven't properly sighted through the corner, almost every time. (I watched someone crash in front of me just last week doing this, they saw gravel on the outside of the apex and went right for it, instead of looking at the exit)

I find that slick tires (assuming you're cornering on asphalt) offer much more surface area and therefore grip than semi knobs. The knobs decrease rubber contact with the ground and tend to deform when cornering. (I learned this both the hard way and easy way).

I prefer to decrease my tire pressure when cornering in order allow the tire to deform to the road surface and therefore have more contact with the ground. I use this to determine tire pressure. This also allows more absorption of small bumps. A very hard tire will bounce over everything and when you're bouncing, you are no longer in contact with the road surface.enter image description here

You can also utilize different lines through a corner in order to achieve a different exit through the corner. The fastest line through a symmetrical corner will always be a symmetrical line, but it won't always be the safest. A late apex works great also

enter image description here

As someone quoted in the "rules," practice is the best way to increase cornering confidence, well...and maybe a little bit of fearlessness.

  • Excellent answer. Also moderate the approach based on known road conditions and corners you've already passed. Water, ice, leaves, mud/dirt, shingle, or grit at one corner would make me slow down more for corners further along.
    – Criggie
    Jun 11 '17 at 6:32
  • The "look where you want to go" guidance applies very broadly - I know it from kayaking.
    – Chris H
    Jun 11 '17 at 6:41
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    This is exactly it. I was looking at the apex, which is why I bailed. It was like I was making a slight turn followed by another turn. I tried the hill and made the turn tighter than ever before. It felt solid all the way through. Thank you.
    – CRoberts
    Jun 12 '17 at 2:46

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