New rider: How to perform a U-turn

Published: 10 December 2009

A U-turn is the real-life use of all those slow speed skills you have built up by practicing in deserted car parks and on your riding course.

It's also one of the most common fails during the test, for both observation and control.

Turning across the flow of traffic in both directions means that good observation is key throughout the manouvere, so check for oncoming traffic and have a good long look over your shoulder before you start your turn.

The start of your turn needs to be as near the kerb as possible, but it's often worth getting moving in a straight line before you dial in some steering input so that you've got the bike balanced and your engine's power balanced against the clutch and with some use of the back brake.

Do that last lifesaver look over your shoulder and swing into the turn smoothly.

The important thing to remember is that to carry out a tight U-turn, the bike must lean toward the inside of the turn.

The more you lean, the tighter the arc of the turn. Many riders, especially beginners, want to feel the security of having both feet on the ground, but doing so increases the radius of the corner since the bike remains nearly straight up-and-down.

Another trick is to lean your body towards the outside of the turn.

As the bike goes through the turn, concentrate on looking up the road to where you want to be instead of focussing on the kerb or the front wheel.

If you need to tighten the turn increase the rear brake, if the bike feels like it's dropping in too fast, increase the throttle a gnat's.

You might find the road's camber changes both these inputs too.

As you come out of the turn, release the rear brake to allow you to pull away smoothly, taking another quick check over your shoulder as you do so. 

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